Delegates to a global conference on renewable energy acknowledged the importance of hydropower — both existing and potential — in the world’s mix of renewable energy resources.
About 6,000 delegates — half ministerial representatives, half business representatives — and more than 100 official country delegations, took part in the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) March 4-6 in Washington. The ministerial-level conference featured remarks by energy leaders from around the world, topped off by a keynote speech from President George W. Bush.
Hydro to share in emissions-free power growth
While much attention focused on increasing the newer renewables technologies, Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates of the United States, predicted conventional emissions-free technologies — hydroelectric and nuclear generation — would account for almost half of the clean power additions by 2030.
Citing a new study by CERA, “Crossing the Divide, the Future of Clean Energy,” Yergin said clean energy investment, which includes new renewables, hydroelectric power, and nuclear energy, could reach a cumulative total of US$7 trillion by 2030.
“We are going through a period of what I call the ‘great bubbling,’ a high degree of innovation all across the energy spectrum,” Yergin said. “This is boosting the competitiveness of renewables and efficiency, and is also evident in terms of conventional energy.”
Hydro potential abundant in power-short regions
Liv Monica Stubholt, Norway’s deputy minister of Petroleum and Energy, said Norway is pushing innovative approaches to energy, backed by its strong expertise in hydropower.
“Norway has developed hydropower for more than a century,” she said. “We are the world’s sixth largest producer, and have an installed capacity of more than 29,000 MW. I am proud of the fact that in Norway, hydropower’s percentage in electricity production is an incredible 99.”
She said efforts must be multiplied to further develop existing large-scale renewables technologies.
“Currently only one-third of the world’s hydropower potential has been developed, while abundant hydro potential is available where energy is most needed: in Africa, Asia, and South America,” Stubholt said.
Hydro expertise advances new ocean technology
Stubholt also highlighted Norway’s work in osmotic power, using osmosis to create water pressure that drives a hydropower turbine. Osmotic power uses the process of osmosis, the movement of water across a partially permeable membrane. (HNN 10/4/07)
In an osmotic power plant, sea water and fresh water are separated by a membrane. The sea water draws the fresh water through the membrane, increasing the pressure on the sea water side. The increased pressure is used to produce power.
“When a river runs into the ocean and the freshwater mixes with the saltwater, huge amounts of energy are unleashed,” Stubholt said. … Osmotic power is a good example of what you can achieve when you build on expertise gathered during a century of hydropower development and combine this with the special geographical advantages we have with rivers running out in the many fjords with saltwater. This gives us natural competitive advantage in this field.”
Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho said Portugal will be investing 12 billion euros (US$18.4 billion) in the energy sector through 2012, notably including hydroelectric projects, wave and wind parks, and other generation.
Pinho told participants Portugal has an ambitious plan to increase its hydropower by 50 percent in five to seven years, from the current installed capacity of 4,800 MW. (HNN 10/8/07) The minister said Portugal also is pioneering wave energy, with the planned operation soon of a large wave energy park. (HNN 8/11/06)
Event promotes hydro protocol as world standard
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) Sustainability Assessment Protocol was the focus of a satellite event, “Defining Sustainable Hydropower,” sponsored by IHA, the U.S. National Hydropower Association (NHA), the Canadian Hydropower Association, WWF International, and the Nature Conservancy.
The session recruited supporters to promote the Sustainability Assessment Protocol as a global standard to guide activities in the hydropower sector. The protocol is to be presented to an upcoming international forum of industry, lending agencies, and non-governmental organizations for consideration as a world standard for hydro development and operation.
The protocol promotes greater consideration of environmental, social, and economic sustainability in the assessment of new energy supply options, new hydro projects, and the operation of existing hydro projects. (HNN 6/6/07)
U.S. has potential to add 95,000 MW of hydro
The Washington-based NHA welcomed WIREC delegates.
“With world demand for new clean energy resources growing, hydropower — both conventional and new waterpower technologies — is ready to expand,” NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said. “WIREC will help highlight how hydropower technologies can serve consumers.”
NHA noted the Electric Power Research Institute has found the United States has the potential to more than double its hydropower capacity by employing new technologies that improve efficiency at existing facilities, add generation to non-powered dams, and harness the power of waves, tides and other sources of moving water. (HNN 3/19/07)
“We have more than 95,000 MW of potential hydropower capacity in the United States,” Ciocci said. “That’s enough to power 76 million homes, avoiding 647 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.”