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HydroVision: Powering Clean Energy

More than 3,000 delegates are expected to attend HydroVision International 2011. As global demand for electricity soars, world leaders are turning to hydropower to fill the void. At HydroVision, attendees will learn more about the effects, solutions and the plan for advancing sustainable hydropower throughout the world.

By Russell W. Ray

Hydropower professionals from throughout the world will be meeting in Sacramento, Calif., the week of July 18 for HydroVision International 2011, the year’s largest gathering of hydropower advocates, where new business opportunities abound and new ideas will be shared.

During the four-day event, the Sacramento Convention Center will feature a busy exhibition floor populated by the world’s biggest players in the hydropower industry and technical presentations and roundtable discussions by leading experts. More than 3,000 people are expected to attend HydroVision, which offers a wealth of networking opportunities with leading professionals and key decision makers.

A wide range of topics and issues, from project planning to innovations in pumped storage hydro, will be discussed by high-ranking regulators, major developers and the biggest hydropower producers.

The keynote session on Tuesday, July 19, will feature a roundtable discussion by four high-ranking executives: Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources; Randy Livingston, vice president of Power Generation for Pacific Gas & Electric Co.; James Tracy, chief financial officer of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District; and Joerg Pohlman, managing director of the SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers GmbH & CO. KG. Russell Ray, senior editor of Hydro Review magazine, will moderate the discussion.

Altogether, the conference will feature more than 450 speakers in 73 sessions, including 21 technical sessions. This year’s HydroVision program features innovative approaches to new development, asset management, dam safety, fisheries management, operations and maintenance, and many other specialties.

In addition, more than 300 companies and organizations will be showcasing their products and services on the exhibition floor. The exhibition opens with a Tuesday evening reception.

HydroVision features 73 sessions under nine tracks: Asset Management, Civil Works & Dam Safety, New Development, Ocean/Tidal/Stream Power, Operations & Maintenance, Policies & Regulations, Water Resources, Technical Papers, and Poster Galleries.

What follows is a description of some of the highlights in seven tracks.

Policies & Regulations

One of the marquee sessions at HydroVision centers on the licensing of hydropower projects in the U.S.

Entitled U.S. Licensing: In Pursuit of a New Paradigm, this session will focus on the arduous licensing process in the U.S. and feature several policy and regulatory experts, including Roger Ballentine, president of Green Strategies Inc. and a Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, and John Seebach, director of the Hydropower Reform Initiative.

“With panelists like Roger Ballentine, John Seebach and Jim Hoecker, we think we have some marquee speakers who are well known by the industry,” said Jay Maher, chairman of the Policies & Regulations track.

Hoecker, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and outside counsel to WIRES, an advocacy group for transmission developers, will participate in a panel discussion entitled Transmission: Overcoming Bottlenecks and Increasing Opportunities.

Water Resources

Lowell Douglas Stott, a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California and a renowned expert in the causes and effects of climate change, will be one of the featured speakers in a highly anticipated session entitled Climate Change and the Shifting Baseline.

Stott and his team of researchers are reconstructing climate information in Indonesia, India and China. The information may shed new light on how water resources may be affected by changes in climate. Stott and other experts on the cutting edge of climate change science will share their perspectives and paleo climate data to gauge the potential effects on water resources and hydropower production.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Stott will share his important work to inform our understanding of climate variability in the paleo-historic record,” said Track Facilitator Patti Kroen.

New Development

There are hundreds of new hydropower projects in some stage of development throughout the world.

They come in all shapes and sizes and are being funded and supported with a range of incentives and financing programs.

HydroVision’s New Development track “is bringing some of the world’s best thinking on new projects’ financing, sustainability, benchmarking and development techniques to this year’s participants,” said track Chairman Norman Bishop. “With the resurgence of new hydropower development, throughout the world, project developers are seeking new ways to manage the risks inherent in these projects.”

A panel of experts will discuss the types of projects that are being pursued around the world, the incentives in place to promote new construction, and the sources of capital available for new projects in a session entitled New Development Around the World.

Asset Management

Managing hydropower assets to maximize efficiency and investments is a craft that can be improved with new tools, technology and strategies.

Incorporating all of this into long-term asset management plans will be the focus of seven sessions under the Asset Management Track.

Ocean/Tidal/Stream Power

Federal regulators have issued preliminary permits for hydrokinetic energy projects exceeding 10,000 MW in the U.S. Outside the U.S., the capacity of proposed hydrokinetic projects is significantly higher.

Generating electricity from river currents, ocean waves and tides is an emerging industry with great promise. In theory, the Earth’s oceans and rivers could supply us with a lot of clean energy. But important questions about cost, capacity and its impact on the environment continue to linger.

All of these issues will be thoroughly vetted by leading hydrokinetic energy experts in seven sessions under the Ocean/Tidal/Stream Power track at HydroVision.

Several ongoing projects will be discussed in a high-profile panel discussion involving some of the world’s leading hydrokinetic energy developers, including Verdant Power and Ocean Power Technologies. The session, entitled Under Construction: Project Status and Opportunities, will be moderated by Mirko Previsic of Re Vision Consulting LLC.

Civil Works & Dam Safety

Of the more than 80,000 dams in the U.S., about a third pose a “high” or “significant” hazard to life and property if a failure occurs, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As dams get older, dam safety programs, inspections and monitoring methods become increasingly important to public safety. What are the best tools, management practices and monitoring methods for maintaining safe dams and civil structures? This is the underlying question that panelists will attempt to answer during seven sessions under the Civil Works & Dam Safety track.

Operations & Maintenance

Every aspect of hydropower plant operations and maintenance contributes to its success. In the seven sessions under the Operations & Maintenance track, hydropower’s most innovative and progressive O&M managers share their approaches to cutting costs, improving equipment longevity and performance, and increasing worker safety. Entitled Turbines: New and Best Maintenance Practices, this session will discuss the best practices power producers are using to improve turbine maintenance. Steve Melavic of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is the moderator. Panelists include Charlie Allen, lead mechanical engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Shanna Durham, mechanical engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation; Ravi Sharma, senior power utility engineer for the California Department of Water Resources; and Jose Antonio Valdes, general manager of Pacific Hydro Chile.


Russell Ray is senior editor of Hydro Review.

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