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      Thirteen things I learned in 2013

      December 31, 2013 2:47 PM by Bethany Duarte, associate editor of Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      Well, it has arrived. The end of the year is here, or will be in 10 hours or so. I find Dec. 31 to be a fun day to people watch. You see people gorging on candy and sweets and guzzling their body weight in champagne, which usually tells me that they are making a New Year’s resolution to eat better and maybe join a gym…again. Then there are the others that pretend it’s any other day, planning on being in bed by 10 and looking forward to a day off in the middle of the week. 

      I must admit I’m somewhere in the middle of it all. I have a deep love for New Year’s Eve and the morning that follows just simply because it’s a fresh start. It’s a universal, international, multilingual reset button that we all push at midnight. A new year full of possibilities and new opportunities (cue the cheesy notes of Auld Lang Syne).

      I have an annual habit of sitting down on Dec. 31 and writing down the major things I learned that year, as well as the goals I have for the following year. These lists end up on my refrigerator, where they are in full view until I get the next wave of pizza coupons in my mailbox and often fade into oblivion like most resolutions.

      This year, I thought I’d bring my annual habit to our blog. As I joined the hydro team here at PennWell in July of 2012, I didn’t really know enough about hydro by the time New Year’s rolled around to comment much. At the time, I was still soaking up the basics and learning the differences between Kaplan and Pelton.

      So here are 13 things I learned in 2013:

      1.) Washington is listening. Thanks to the efforts of the NHA and organizations like it, we as an industry made a splash this year when the President signed the “Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013” into law.

      2.) Second? H.R. 678. Otherwise known as the “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act”, which amended the Reclamation Project Act of 1939.

      3.) More than 3,100 attendees from 53 different countries. 320 exhibitors. HydroVision International was the place to be in July. I was absolutely blown away by the event and more importantly, by all of you. We may have planned the event but you made it what it was. From the keynote and packed informational sessions to the exhibit floor and karaoke, it was fantastic getting to meet you all and discuss what’s happening in the industry. After what I saw in Denver, I can hardly wait for HydroVision 2014 in Nashville!

      4.) I heard from many of you that your favorite part of HydroVision this year was the fact that you came home with a‘dam’ shirt. I can’t blame you. That shirt was fantastic.

      5.) The hydro team has some serious creative clout. Our blog posts range from technical and informative to witty and humorous depending on the week. We have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to chat candidly about the industry, and not just from the technical perspective. The only thing that would make our blogs better is your comments. Come on, you know you want to (pardon the shameless plug).

      6.) You all are talking about hydropower. I say this because after publishing my blog post about getting out there and being vocal about the industry, I received some great e-mails from you telling me what you were doing to push the industry forward. To that, I saw bravo, and speak up even louder in the new year.

      7.) After hearing it more than 25 times this year, I have accepted the title graciously of “young Marla Barnes.” 

      8.) We are more than just professionals with common interests – this industry is a community. In some ways, it’s a very large, often dysfunctional, loud, but always practical family. This year, many of you became my friends. So thank you.

      9.) If I want to break the silence in a room at a hydropower event, all I need to do is drop two words: “dam” and“removal."

      10.) I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – this is the most friendly, most accepting industry I’ve ever encountered. Proof? You all clapped during my karaoke debut at HydroVision. Good people right there.

      11.) Hydropower owes a large portion of its success to the sheer amount of practical knowledge and expertise you all bring to the table. From editing your articles to listening to you tell me about your latest innovation at your plant, I’m impressed by the collective dedication and intelligence of this industry.

      12.) The more meetings I attend, the more excited I get about the future of this industry. Between what the Hydro Research Foundation is doing, some of the student presentations I’ve had the privilege of hearing, and the young professionals I’ve met in the past year, the future of hydropower is in good hands.

      13.) Each and every e-mail, retweet, magazine subscription, comment on HydroWorld.com or REW.com, handshake at HydroVision, or follow on LinkedIn is a reminder of why I love my job. I love being able to look back over my year and see proudly that we provided you with practical, relevant, and useful information (with a side of humor from me). 

      Well there you have it. I can safely speak for our whole team when I wish you and yours a very happy New Year and best of luck in all you do in the year to come.

      Here’s to a great 2014!

      A Holiday Wish, From Michael Harris

      December 17, 2013 11:06 AM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      I'm not sure that it's a tangible or improvable skill like, say, playing the piano (which I was at one time relatively good at) or hacking divots into the golf course (which might be why I've never been asked to participate in the annual HydroVision International tournament), but I am bad -- woefully so, in fact -- at Christmas.

      I'm told there's an art to wrapping gifts. I don't have it. My presents are easily identifiable as the ones with sloppy creases and ribbons tied in knots I learned in Cub Scouts instead of from watching Martha Stewart.

      Meanwhile, my artificial tree is envious of Charlie Brown's droopy sapling -- and to further demonstrate my Christmas ineptitude, I strung it with orange lights as an homage to my alma mater, Oklahoma State. You know. Because that makes sense, right?

      It seemed like a good idea until I fell asleep on the couch one night, only to hit my head on the coffee table when I rolled off it in a panic-induced stupor thinking the orange glow were flames consuming my apartment instead of the Christmas tree standing innocently in the corner.

      I'm not even good at deciding what I want for Christmas, and aside from the US$2 million two-person submarine I saw in the SkyMall catalog during my most recent flight, I'm mostly just hoping I've been good enough for Santa Claus to bring me a new vacuum cleaner and some dress socks.

      I thought it might befit the season, however, if I were to make a holiday wish list for the hydropower industry as the editor of HydroWorld.com and not as a 30-year old who still secretly wants Legos and G.I. Joe action figures.

      So, without further ado, here are the five things I'd wish for if I could have anything for the hydroelectric world:

      1)  I wish that Brazil can make significant strides in the development of its hydropower sector, particularly with regard to a number of the larger projects that have been plagued by delays and controversy. Though the importance of hydroelectricity as an energy commodity has never been more prominent -- particularly as the country sprints to prepare for the upcoming FIFA World Cup and 2014 Olympic Games -- projects like the 11.2-GW Belo Monte and 1.8-GW Teles Pires have been halted numerous times through the past year alone.

      2)  I wish that the United States Congress continues to make hydropower a priority in the following year. Two bills signed off by President Obama in August are indeed a good start, and additional legislation currently moving through the Senate would only add to what has already been enacted. The fact that hydropower has been included in two recent national renewable portfolio standard proposals is also a victory for the industry, but as often seems to be the case, there is still more work to be done.

      3)  I wish for more multinational hydropower investments in emerging and recovering markets. With the World Bank announcing its renewed support for large hydroelectric projects earlier this year and other financial institutions following suit, it's fantastic to see lenders proactively choosing to invest in hydropower for both its energy production and ancillary benefits. This is especially true for many of the African and Asian projects we've covered this past year where irrigation and flood control are as significant considerations as electricity. Small hydropower hasn't been left out either, given that localized projects are helping provide electricity in areas where grids might not otherwise be able to reach.

      4)  I wish for even more advances in the marine and hydrokinetics sector. The MHK market might still be a bit alien to hydropower traditionalists, but with significant research being done around the globe, wave energy and tidal power aren't going anywhere. And though development is still an emphasis, the real race now seems to be toward full-scale commercial production.

      5)  I wish for more news out of Canada. While writing the cover story for the December 2013 issue of Hydro Review magazine, it became apparent to me that I could do a better job of finding more day-to-day news from our northern neighbors. And like Ralphie Parker dropping hints for an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, this is where I leave my email address and encourage those of you doing work in Canada to let us know what you're up to.

      I think this is the point in virtually every Christmas movie where a doe-eyed child emerges from a crowd of cynical non-Santa believers and tells them if they all hope really hard that their wish will come true.

      So, perhaps if we all wish together, the industry will get some of what it wants this holiday season.

      And as for me, I think I've changed my mind. Skip the submarine and give me an Oklahoma State victory over Hydro Review sales director Howard Lutzk's Missouri Tigers in the Cotton Bowl instead.

      Happy holidays from all of us here at HydroWorld.com, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines.

      A hydropower engineer walks into a bar …

      December 10, 2013 11:55 AM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      When the owner of a pub in the United Kingdom needed a way to provide electricity for its operations that relied on renewables rather than fossil fuel, hydroelectric power became the answer. How fun is that?!

      The pub, called Sticklebarn, has been a fixture near Ambleside in the Lake District for more than 40 years. It is located near a stream with a flow of nearly 200 L per second. The National Trust took over ownership of the pub in March 2013 and just recently received approval to install a 100-kW turbine-generator unit to take advantage of this resource. This project, called Stickle Ghyll, is expected to cost £650,000 (US$1.07 million).

      The National Trust is a charity that works to preserve and protect historic places and spaces. It opens 300 historic houses and properties to the visiting public, operates 360 holiday cottages and cares for thousands of tenanted buildings. The trust spends almost £6 million (US$9.86 million) a year on electricity, oil and gas. National Trust staff work in the pub and share their knowledge and expertise of the outdoors with the thousands of visitor who come to the valley for its outdoor activities, the trust says.

      Development of this hydro project is part of a wider aspiration to turn Sticklebarn into the UK’s most sustainable pub, the National Trust says. The pub is focused on sustainability in other areas as well. It produces its own vodka and gin and serves food grown by neighboring tenant farmers. Many of the beers offered are from local breweries. All profits from the pub go back into protecting the local landscape.

      This project is one of three from the National Trust that are included in a pilot phase of its major renewables investment program. The National Trust has pledged to invest nearly £3.5 million (US$5.75 million) in five pilot projects during 2013/2014. The other hydro project involves a plant at Craflwyn near Beddgelert, Snowdonia. Electricity from this project will be sold back to the grid.

      If the pilot is deemed successful, the trust expects to spend ten times that sum on a program that will enable it to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources and halve its fossil fuel consumption by 2020. In 2008, only 1% of energy consumed by National Trust properties came from renewable sources and 99% from fossil fuel.

      “Small wind turbines and hydropower plants can be developed in harmony with their surrounding landscape, archaeology and ecology and can enhance people’s enjoyment of the countryside,” the trust says.

      Facilities the trust has already converted to be powered by renewable energy include Gibson Mill, a textile mill in West Yorkshire that is powered by a combination of wood fuel and solar for heating and hydroelectric power and solar panels for electricity. Another is Bonfield Gill Farm in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, where a 1-kW Archimedes screw is used to generate electricity.

      I think this is a fun story, not just because it involves a pub but because it shows the value of hydropower as a distributed source of electricity, similar to how many facility owners are installing solar panels. Hopefully more business owners will look to the surrounding area for renewable resources and see the hydropower potential in their own back yards.

      If you know of any stories similar to this one, tell me about it below. I would love to learn about more development of this type.

      Aboriginal perspective - a recommendation

      December 3, 2013 2:54 PM by Bethany Duarte, associate editor of Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      I’ve admitted before that I came into this industry knowing very little about hydropower, and that I have been on a quest to understand not only the technical aspects of the industry but also the cultural significance and impacts of hydropower ever since.

      I was beyond fascinated by author Chris Henderson’s presentation this past October at the Ontario Waterpower Association’s Power of Water Canada Conference. Henderson, a professional in the clean energy, sustainable development, and Aboriginal partnership sectors in Canada, released his book “Aboriginal Power: Clean Energy & the Future of Canada’s First Peoples.”

      Officially launched for the first time at the OWA conference, the book dives deep into the rich partnership and connection between hydroelectric power generation and First Nations in Canada.

      As we have readers from all over the world, a little context is important.

      The First Nations are bands of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, of which there are more than 630 officially recognized across the nation. Nearly half of this population is concentrated in British Columbia and Ontario.

      In my travels to Canada on behalf of Hydro Review magazine, I have been overwhelmed by the richness and diversity of the First Nation culture I’ve encountered. There is much to see, as the First Nations have invested heavily into hydroelectric power generation on their native lands.

      In his book, Henderson broaches this important topic by identifying the role Aboriginal co-ownership and investment in renewable energy development can play in both the future of power generation and the First Nations culture.

      As both a history buff and hydropower journalist, this book was an incredibly intriguing read, as Henderson drew upon both his background as an Aboriginal elder and his experience in renewable energy and economic development to suggest a bridge that would connect the two for generations to come. He uses engaging stories, case profiles of projects from all over the country, and the economic and policy issues that come up with a co-owned project.

      Henderson discusses a wide range of topics, including trends he has seen in Aboriginal power development, the ins-and-outs of renewable energy partnerships, decision-making within the community setting, and project financing.

      As indigenous partnerships, aboriginal renewable energy development, and rural economic development are concerns and issues on a global scale, I would highly recommend this as a read for those within North America and beyond.

      To order, visit aboriginalpower.ca.