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IEA offers online atlas on small hydropower projects

The International Energy Agency offers a redesigned Small Hydro Atlas online that contains information about small hydro projects worldwide. The goal of this atlas is to facilitate the development of new small hydro projects ranging from 50 kW to 10 MW.

IEA says the Small Hydro Gateway has been redesigned and updated with new features, including a comprehensive database of small hydro innovative technologies. Those involved in the small hydro industry can register on the site to have access to resources and information, as well as to be updated on the activities of the IEA Hydropower Small Hydro Annex and upcoming events.

A database query feature allows users to search by development status (operational or potential), region, river name, site name, total installed capacity (range) or gross head (range).

For example, a search for operational facilities in the province of Quebec, Canada, reveals information on 38 sites with a total capacity of more than 196 MW. Data provided includes longitude and latitude, gross head and total generating capacity. A search for potential projects in the state of Alaska in the USA yields 106 results with a total capacity of more than 745 MW.

Additional available information on the site includes:

— Country brief, which provides information on the water resource, energy and power sectors, hydro development, small hydro, and further outlook;

— Key country contacts; and

— Affiliated organizations.

— The atlas is available at http://small-hydro.com/About/Annex-II-task-Force.aspx.

Environment Agency developing river restoration database

SFW has developed an interactive knowledge management system called RESTORE for the Environment Agency, intended to compile and share information on about 500 river restoration projects throughout Europe.

The system was built using open source software in combination with the Environment Agency's existing infrastructure. The Wiki-style online information source can used by European government agencies, engineers, ecologists, planners and other parties involved in restoring rivers, according to the agency.

The database includes mitigation, adaptation and compensation techniques; information on ecosystem goods and services; stakeholder participation; and economic drivers to better identify measures that will also help to implement the Flood, Birds and Habitats, and Energy from Renewable Sources Directives.

The system will be key to the RESTORE partnership for river restoration in Europe, a project funded by the European Commission's LIFE+ Programme, which supports environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU. RESTORE is managed jointly by public organizations in the UK, Netherlands, Finland, Romania and Italy.

The Environment Agency is a non-departmental public body, responsible for protecting and improving the environment in England and Wales. SFW is an information technology systems and services company in Woking, Surrey.

The system is located at www.restorerivers.eu.

DNV issues fitness certification to bearing with D-glide material

Det Norske Veritas has issued a certificate of fitness for service to a submerged sliding radial bearing with D-glide FT lubricating material on an Inconel 625 counter material. Testing, conducted by a scientific test institute liaised to Ghent University, was witnessed by DNV, which issued the certificate in October 2011.

The D-glide bearing — manufactured by DRIE-D Americas Incorporated of Grimsby, Ontario, Canada — has undergone a three-year testing program carried out by the institute on behalf of a Dutch offshore company. This program was aimed at rating D-glide relative to three other maintenance-free bearing materials and determining the suitability for use in submerged mooring systems.

Phase 1 was a first comparison of all materials to create a rating relative to each other and to select the two best materials for testing. In Phase 2, testing took place to investigate sensitivity to various parameters under actual field conditions. The best material was tested in Phase 3 under "other" conditions such as dry and greased. This phase also contained a long-term test. D-glide was chosen for Phase 3.

D-glide performed best of all the materials tested, with stable sliding behavior. Shape, dimensions and environment do not have a considerable impact on friction values, and wear is insignificant. The material shows no stick-slip, at higher pressures the difference between static and dynamic friction is negligible and friction values are always low.

The research was released in February 2011.

DNV is an independent foundation established in Norway with the purpose of safeguarding life, property and the environment.

Study analyzes impact of dam construction in Amazonian regions

A report released by the Center for International Environmental Law suggests hydroelectric development in the Andean Amazon could have a significant, negative environmental impact.

The study, conducted by a team led by scientist Matt Finer, analyzes a portfolio of 150 planned dams and hydropower projects across all six major river basins connecting the Andes Mountains to the Amazon River. The study spans Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

These 150 projects represent a 300% increase in the number of existing hydropower plants in the region, and more than half of them would have capacities greater than 100 MW. The study says more than 40% of the projects are in "advanced" planning stages.

Finer says the breaks created in river connectivity between protected Andean headwaters and the lowland Amazon concern him most. "These results are quite troubling given the critical link between the Andes Mountains and the Amazonian floodplain," Finer says.

About 60% of the projects would create the first such major break on their respective waterway, according to the study. "There appears to be no strategic planning regarding possible consequences to the disruption of an ecological connection that has existed for millions of years," Finer says.

Such connectivity is important, says Finer, because the Andes supply the vast majority of sediment, nutrients and organic matter to the Amazon floodplain. Likewise, many Amazonian fish species only spawn in Andean-fed rivers, including many that migrate the length of the rivers.

The report also notes that more than 80% of the proposed dams would cause forest loss, and more than half are classified as "high impact."

"We conclude that there is an urgent need for strategic basin scale evaluation of new dams and a plan to maintain Andes-Amazon connectivity," says co-author Clinton Jenkins, biologist at North Carolina State University.

The Center for International Environmental Law was established in 1989 and has offices in Washington, D.C. and Geneva. The organization offers legal counsel, advocacy and policy research in a number of areas related to environmental law.

Alstom to build manufacturing facility, service center

Alstom and RusHydro have broken ground on a new jointly owned manufacturing plant in Ufa, Russia.

The venture, unveiled in 2011 as Alstom RusHydro Energy, will produce equipment for small hydropower plants up to 25 MW, medium plants up to 100 MW and pumped-storage plants up to 150 MW, as well as auxiliary equipment.

The plant is the result of the companies' "Strategic Cooperation Agreement," which was signed in December 2010. The agreement emphasizes four key points of coordination, including:

— Reconstruction and modernization of the Kubanski cascade hydropower complex;

— Cooperation for the development of hydropower activities;

— Cooperation in research and development and investment; and

— Local manufacturing of hydro equipment in the Republic of Bashkortostan.

RusHydro will have a one-share advantage in the venture's ownership. Equipment production at the plant is scheduled to begin by the end of 2013.

In March 2012, Alstom placed the cornerstone of its new Global Technology Centre for Latin America. The facility, located with Alstom's largest hydro factory in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, is scheduled for completion in mid-2013. Alstom says the center will include a state-of-the-art test stand for turbine models and will allow for partnerships with several Brazilian universities.

Alstom already has similar centers in Grenoble, France; Baroda, India; Birr, Switzerland; and Sorel-Tracy, Canada.

In addition, Alstom and hydroelectric producer Druk Green Power Corporation are teaming up to establish a new hydropower service center.

The facility, which will be split 51% and 49% between Druk Green Power and Alstom, respectively, will provide repair services for hydro runners and other underwater hydroelectric components.

The service center is being built in anticipation of a boom in hydropower development as the governments of Bhutan and India have stated their cooperation in developing 10,000 MW of hydroelectric power by 2020.

Alstom says it expects the service center to be completed within 27 months, with 62 employees during its first year of operation and increasing to 160 once the facility reaches its full capacity.

Researchers develop device for desilting pressure pipes

Austrian power production company TIWAG is supporting the development of an axial hydro cyclone by scientists with the Vienna University of Technology to remove silt from a pressure pipe at a 10 MW hydro station.

The power station is near an ecologically sensitive area beneath a glacier. It contains a single Pelton turbine-generator unit fed via a Tyrolean weir-type intake with two desilting chambers. The chambers allow for settlement of particles larger than 0.3 mm in diameter, which are flushed once a certain amount of sediment is deposited. But smaller particles are dragged into the pressure pipe and pass through the turbines, where they cause erosion damage. In fact, within the three summer months of 2011, about 3,000 tons of fine sediment passed the turbine, causing a decrease in efficiency of about 6%.

TIWAG investigated a variety of options to deal with this problem — including new runner designs and different coatings — before deciding to support the research and development of an axial hydro cyclone at the beginning of the pressure pipe. This type of equipment is well-known and used in the field of industrial dust separation.

The power company hired the Vienna University of Technology to develop a design that would be optimized in the direction of the lowest total pressure drop and highest total degree of separation.

Research work is ongoing, and the separator has not yet been installed at a hydro facility.

Trelleborg expands operations in India

International engineering group Trelle-borg continues to increase its physical presence in India, with the opening of several new facilities and more planned through the end of 2012.

Trelleborg has already established "engineered systems" and "sealing solutions" facilities in India, giving the company a foothold in what it calls a "key region."

"India has a vast and growing economy with an average growth of 6-7% expected in the next three years in industrial production alone," says Trelleborg President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Nilsson.

Trelleborg says it has already completed a new engineered systems facility in Bangalore, and Trelleborg Sealing Solutions expected to open its new Center of Excellence in late April 2012.

"These investments will enable us to get closer to the action in our chosen market sectors in India and around the world," Nilsson says.

The company reports its sales in India have increased from US$61.5 million in 2010 to $72.5 million in 2011.

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