By Michael Harris
HydroVision International 2015 is just a month away, but it isn’t too late to start planning your trip to Portland, Ore. This year’s event includes a number of new conference sessions and other offerings devoted to the most significant topics facing the industry today.
Michael Harris is associate editor of Hydro Review.
While some know it as “The City of Roses,” “Bridgetown,” “Rip City,” “Stumptown” or “Beervana,” Portland, Ore., will become “Hydroville” when “PDX” plays host to HydroVision International 2015 in July.
The annual event takes place July 14-17 and is again expected to attract more than 3,000 attendees from around the globe, making HydroVision International the world’s largest gathering of hydro sector professionals.
And just as the industry is a dynamic one, so too is HydroVision, with a number of new sessions, co-located events, networking opportunities and more to better match the ever-changing interests and concerns of the hydro sector.
“I can’t even imagine where the industry would be without HydroVision,” says Kamau Sadiki, national hydropower business line manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “You’re going to blow a tremendous opportunity if you don’t come. HydroVision is the place to be if you’re in the hydro business.”
Highlighted here are a handful of events, changes and additions announced for HydroVision International 2015. For full details on the entire conference and exhibition, visit HydroEvent.com.
Getting off to a good start
HydroVision’s 2015 opening keynote session looks to set a positive tone for the remainder of the conference, featuring speakers from official host utilities PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric, the U.S. Department of Energy.
Representing PacifiCorp will be President and Chief Executive Officer Stefan Bird, who will provide a boardroom perspective of how hydroelectric resources are viewed by companies with mixed generating portfolios. PacifiCorp owns a 10,600-MW portfolio that includes 43 hydro projects, in addition to coal, natural gas, wind and geothermal assets.
Speaking on behalf of Portland General Electric is Maria Pope, who serves as the utility’s senior vice president of Power Supply and Operations and Resource Strategy. Pope will focus on hydro’s role in the changing energy mix needed to service PGE’s 842,000 customers.
Also helping kick off HydroVision International will be Jose Zayas, Director of DOE’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Zayas will provide an update on the department’s much-anticipated Hydropower Vision plan, which seeks to provide an industry-wide roadmap for hydroelectric development through the next half century.
Messages will also be presented by the National Hydropower Association, International Hydropower Association, Canadian Hydropower Association and Northwest Hydroelectric Association.
The keynote session will also include the Hydro Hall of Fame induction ceremony, during which time one or more historical plants will be recognized for their long-lasting contributions to the hydroelectric power industry. Only 38 plants have been named to the Hydro Hall of Fame since the award’s inception in 1995.
Expanding concepts of “hydro”
While the marine hydrokinetic sector has had a presence at HydroVision for more than a decade, the Oregon Wave Energy Trust is expanding the offering to this sector by holding its 10th annual conference concurrently with the event.
OWET’s Ocean Renewable Energy Conference X, being offered as seven panel presentation sessions spread over three days, will provide attendees a forum to share new ideas and opportunities to learn from industry leaders and experts from around the world.
“HydroVision attendees will benefit from a deeper look at this emerging industry and its role in the future sustainability of hydro, while OWET conference attendees will have the opportunity to network with hydro professionals from throughout the world,” OWET said.
In addition to seven marine energy conference sessions, HydroVision International 2015 also features the new Marine Energy Pavilion and OWET Lounge, giving MHK technology developers and manufacturers an opportunity to network on the exhibit floor.
Addressing the Latest Trends
HydroVision International will feature seven conference tracks, including Asset Management, Civil Works and Dam Safety, New Development, Operations and Maintenance, Policies and Regulations, Water Resources and the Ocean Renewable Energy Conference X — each filled with panel presentation sessions devoted to key issues within the industry.
With many of these crossing boundaries between tracks, take a look at some of the most significant topics to be addressed:
Making more with less
With project operators constantly facing challenges of meeting the bottom line, HydroVision features more than 70 educational sessions spread across multiple tracks that are designed to address the business of hydropower.
“Asset management provides opportunities in which we can bridge the gap with finite resources,” said track chair John Etzel, Deputy Director of the Corps’ Hydroelectric Design Center.
Highlighting information related to the business side of hydro are sessions 1A: “Tips and Considerations for Developing a Strong Business Case for Hydro Assets,” 4F: “Valuing Hydro in the Marketplace” and 5C: “Emerging Market Concerns: Integration, Variability and the Cost of Energy.” These sessions will provide owners and developers with information on building business cases, investment plans and funding streams for both conventional and marine energy projects.
“We’ve got some innovative things we’re going to be talking about,” Etzel said. “We’ve got case studies, and we’ve got lessons learned that others are going to share about things that work and things that don’t work.”
Dealing with extreme events
Be it drought, flood, equipment failure or otherwise, project operators must be prepared for all situations at all times.
HydroVision’s Civil Works and Dam Safety track includes two sessions devoted to such crises, including 1B: “When the Storm Comes and the Wave Falls: Assessing the Consequences of Dam Failure” and 3B: “Are Your Hydraulic Structures Ready for the Emergency?” These sessions discuss what to do when disaster strikes, and also how to prevent them in the first place.
“This is a topic that’s on everybody’s mind these days, and it’s a developing topic,” said track chair C. Richard Donnelly, who is director of water power for Hatch. “All of these countries are looking at ways to incorporate risk into their decision-making processes.”
Also new to HydroVision this year, Donnelly said, will be sessions focusing on economically raising existing dams for both safety and production, and new design philosophies that involve contractors much earlier in the development process.
Session 2G: “Managing Hydro Projects During Droughts and Other Lower Water Events” will also be one of particular importance to many, given the record low river and reservoir levels currently being seen around the globe.
Keep on keepin’ on
It’s no secret that one of hydro’s greatest assets is the operational longevity enjoyed by many projects, but those plants don’t take care of themselves. Instead, they owe their long lives to successful operations and maintenance programs, making O&M practices an area of importance to all project owners and operators.
With the equipment and infrastructure at many plants beginning to age, several sessions at HydroVision International 2015 focus on how to make sure it retains its productivity long into the future.
Amongst these sessions are 2E: “Your Generator: Will it Run Until You Retire?” 4E: “Back to the Future: Operating 20th Century Hydro Plants in the 21st Century” and 5E: “Bearing Rehab and Applications in Today’s Demanding Hydro Industry” — all of which are part of the Operations and Maintenance track — and 7B: “Built to Last? Maximizing Project Value over Varying Lifespans” in the Civil Works and Dam Safety track.
“There’s a lot of attention to permitting and dealing with construction issues and environmental issues, but those tend to go away after the plant is up and running,” said track chair Tom Brittain, senior mechanical engineer for Black & Veatch Corporation. “The operation and maintenance is going to be around forever, and it’s core to how you make the operation of the plant efficient and economical.”
Plotting the future
Announced in 2014, the “Hydropower Vision” plan represents significant opportunity for the industry as DOE continues to expand hydropower’s place in America’s energy future.
Devoted to the discussion of this potential are sessions 1D: “What It’s Going to Take to Double Hydropower Production in the U.S.” and 2F: “DOE’s Hydropower Vision Initiative — A Roadmap to the Future” — both of which will examine the implementation, strategic planning, development, markets, financing and policy, with participants invited to contribute to further shaping the DOE plan.
“It’s unbelievably advantageous for your knowledge to come into one of these HydroVision sessions to hear what other people are doing,” said New Development track chair Norman Bishop, senior vice president of hydroelectric and renewable energy, Knight Piesold and Co.
Meanwhile, Session 7D: “What’s Working, What’s Not — Update on Federal Efforts to Increase Hydropower at Existing Dams” looks at what developers and government agencies are doing to capitalize on existing infrastructure and further cooperative efforts that might cut red tape.
More learning opportunities
In addition to seven discussion-based tracks, HydroVision International also features 21 technical papers presentation sessions in three tracks and a poster gallery.
The technical papers sessions give dozens of authors an opportunity to share new ideas and findings in a more structured format, while the poster gallery offers a more informal way for attendees to interact directly with presenters.
Ending on a high note
Portland is home to more brewpubs per capita than any other city in the U.S., making it more than appropriate to cap HydroVision International 2015 with a picnic and beer tasting in place of the former closing luncheon.
The “Keep Hydrated” networking event will feature beers from two Portland breweries, food with a local flair, and one last opportunity to network.
For more information
For those who have never attended, and even for those who have, HydroVision International can be an overwhelming experience with all the conference and exhibition has to offer.
To better prepare, however, the preliminary event guide is available for viewing online. The guide includes full details about each conference session, co-located events, technical paper and poster presentation.
Registrations for HydroVision International 2015 are also still available. To view the preliminary event guide, or to sign up to attend, visit HydroEvent.com.
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