Waterpower XV conference sees upsurge in hydro prospects

The Waterpower conference, a biennial barometer of the hydropower development climate, convened July 24 amid signs of growing interest in developing new hydropower around the world.

More than 1,300 delegates from 40 countries gathered July 23-26 in Chattanooga for Waterpower XV, the 15th edition of the hydro industry technical conference.

Conference participants hailed an upsurge in hydropower prospects, fostered by demand for economical power, worries about global warming, and concerns about energy security.

Leslie Eden, president of conference organizer HCI Publications, welcomed delegates, noting a change from the hydro industry’s main focus on modernization, rehabilitation, and upgrading of existing assets.

�Now there is a rising tide of interest in building new hydro facilities, both conventional and pumped storage,� she said. �Not since the early 1980s has there been such a high level of interest in new hydro.�

Eden said industry issues have changed since the first Waterpower conference was organized in the late 1970s, with new emphasis on stakeholder involvement, environmental concerns, security against terrorism, and new technologies to capture energy from ocean waves and stream flows. She noted a majority of 2007’s hydro permit applications filed with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have been for tidal power projects.

Brookfield’s Youlen receives ASCE Rickey Medal

The optimistic outlook was ratified by David J. Youlen of hydro developer and operator Brookfield Power, who received the Rickey Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers Energy Division.

�This is the most exciting time in the hydropower industry in my career,� he said.

Youlen, Brookfield’s senior vice president, North American Development, said in his recently ended term as National Hydropower Association president, he had urged his colleagues to �build something.� He said it appeared he, and the industry, are being given that chance.

The Rickey Medal is a national award established in 1947 to honor James W. Rickey, a leader of hydroelectric engineering progress. It is awarded for meritorious contribution to the science and progress of hydroelectric engineering.

Chairman Mario Finis of the ASCE Hydropower Technical Committee, noted Youlen’s certificate declares: �For his renewable energy development focus, years of dedication to efficient and environmentally sensitive operation of 730 MW of system-critical hydroelectric capacity, and contributions of his own time and effort to industry forums and historic interests.�

With more than 30 years’ experience in the hydro industry, Youlen is active in several industry organizations. He is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering.

Tennessee Valley hydro provides conference backdrop

President Tom Kilgore of the Tennessee Valley Authority welcomed delegates to the heart of the TVA hydropower system, the Tennessee River Valley. He, too, noted that things have changed for a hydropower giant that was founded in 1933.

�The hydropower industry has learned that engineering issues must be addressed in a broader context than in the past,� Kilgore said. �Solutions must be judged by looking at their impact on the entire river environment.�

TVA operates nine dams on the mainstem Tennessee River, the fifth largest river in the United States. It also operates 20 hydropower projects on tributaries and the 1,618-MW Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage project. He noted TVA operates 5,144 MW of hydropower, 6,700 MW of nuclear power, 14,000 MW of coal generation, and 6,000 MW of gas-fired plants.

�What made TVA a model for others more than 50 years ago remains the same today — we operate a fully integrated river system, he said. �The river is more than just a source of hydropower — it’s central to TVA’s three-part mission for energy, economic development, and the environment.�

In addition to Waterpower XV’s traditional technical presentations, the multi-faceted conference program included symposia, roundtables, and poster galleries that enabled delegates to interact with experts. More than 240 service and product providers also were on hand in the conference exhibit hall to share new advances and solutions.

Several pre- and post-conference seminars, workshops, and technical tours also were held. Tours included a one-day visit to Raccoon Mountain, and two days of visits to six Tennessee and Georgia hydro projects.

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