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HYDRO 2012 Overview

HYDRO 2012 Overview

The official launch of the IEA Hydropower Technology Roadmap, predicting a doubling of hydro capacity worldwide by 2050, details of the Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa, involving an investment of nearly $40 billion in large-scale hydro over the next 50 years, and details of the World Bank’s current major engagement in hydropower, were three of the major components of the Opening Ceremony at HYDRO 2012, organized by Aqua-Media International Ltd, which took place in Bilbao, Spain, from 29 to 31 October.

About 1300 participants from more than 80 countries gathered for the three-day event, which dealt comprehensively with the many concrete plans for global hydropower and pumped-storage development. During the opening ceremony, Aqua-Media Director Alison Bartle reflected on how much progress had been made in hydropower development over the past ten years: she noted that a decade ago, Africa had only 1800 MW of hydro capacity under construction; today that figure has increased by a factor of seven. In Asia, there has been an 83% increase in the hydro capacity in operation during the same time period, and a 60% increase in hydro under construction. In Latin America, hydro capacity under construction has almost tripled, with Brazil taking the lead. She gave details of some of the major schemes taking off around the world.

ESHA President Marko Gospodjinacki gave a keynote address on European energy politics, drawing attention to the urgent need for a decision matrix. Jean-Michel Devernay, Chief Technical Specialist for Hydropower at the World Bank, gave details of some of the hydro schemes currently being supported around the world, underlining the Bank’s commitment to sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

Albert Geber de Melo, Director-General of CEPEL, Brazil, gave a talk on behalf of Marcio Zimmermann, Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy. He demonstrated the important role of hydro in the Brazilian energy matrix, and the rapid expansion in hydro generating capacity , with projections for further increases until 2020. He then discussed the social, environmental and economic sustainability aspects of hydropower, stressing the need to find the right balance.

On the subject of environmental management, he referred to the large developments in the Amazon region (often criticized by international NGOs), and pointed out that only 0.13% of the vast territory was affected by existing hydro stations, and the major schemes planned would only occupy an additional 0.12% of the land.

The topics covered in the sessions and panel discussions which followed covered a broad range of topics, ranging from financing strategies, risk management and disputes resolution, to research for hydraulic machinery, and addressing problems of alkali aggregate reaction in dams and hydro plants.

A new addition to the programme this year was a panel discussion on “Closing the gap between experienced and junior staff in the hydro/dams profession”. Young engineers from the host country, Spain, debated the issue with Chairman Dr Harald Kreuzer of Switzerland, Alessandro Palmieri of the World Bank, Prof Luis Berga (Hon President of ICOLD) and Mr Jose Polimon, President of SPANCOLD.

The International Energy Agency hosted three sessions, on GHG emissions research, Hydro services, and Powerplant upgrading. Discussions on small hydro were led by ESHA and BHA, and the Chairman of ICOLD’s Committee on Environment chaired on of three sessions on environmental aspects.

A full-day track on pumped-storage (role and benefits, technical developments and case studies as well as a panel discussion) was led by Bruno Trouille of the USA. Co-chairs included Mr Javier Palacios, Head of Hydro Generation at Iberdrola, Spain, and Zhao Zheng of HydroChina.

Other technical issues covered by presentations included: tunnels and underground works, sedimentation management, innovative flood discharge works and electrical engineering.

A comprehensive report of discussions and outcomes is now in preparation, with input from the session chairmen as well as the H&D editorial team. This will appear in Issue 6 of Hydropower & Dams, published in December.

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