Perspectives: The New Face of Hydroelectricity

By Marla Barnes

In early February 2015, the public television station, PBS, on its news program NewsHour, aired a segment on hydropower. The piece, by Inside Energy’s Dan Boyce, focused specifically on small hydro. In the segment, Boyce refers to small hydro as “the new face” of hydroelectricity.

After watching the segment (which I highly recommend!*) and reading my colleague Michael Harris’s “Hydro Talk” blog about it (which I also highly recommend!*), I got to thinking about this concept of “new faces.” Especially in the context of what some perceive as an “old industry.”

As you read through this edition of Hydro Review, you’ll find numerous contributions by “new faces:”

— Article on page 56 – “How Composite Materials Can be Used for Small Hydro Turbines” – written by a young EIT (engineer in training). Marc Whitehead shares his findings from a research project he conducted as part of his scholarship received from the Hydro Research Foundation/U.S. Department of Energy.

— Page 74 – profile on a student at Penn State who is studying computational fluid dynamics, with the hope to make “significant contributions” to hydropower in future.

— Page 18 – article by Hydro Review‘s newest associate editor Greg Poindexter showcasing $2.25 billion of work going on to rehabilitate and modernize a dozen hydro projects in North America. A big investment toward securing renewable electricity supply for decades to come.

You’ll also find references to new approaches to solve age-old problems (check out the article on page 38 about rehabilitating a buckled penstock using carbon fiber-reinforced polymer) and exciting opportunities in new market sectors (read the Marine Hydrokinetics department on page 70).

My conclusion? The hydro industry is blessed right now to be full of new faces, ideas and technologies, while benefitting from the wisdom and experience that comes with using a more than 100-year-old proven technology to generate clean, renewable electricity.

News about 2015 hydro events

And, speaking of “NEW,” this year, both the National Hydropower Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., in April, and PennWell’s HydroVision International conference and exhibition in Portland, Ore., in July, are featuring “new” co-located events.

The first-ever International Marine Renewable Energy Conference (IMREC) and Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS) will co-locate with the NHA annual conference. This new event brings together researchers, technology and project developers, policy makers, NGOs, and industry representatives to share challenges, solutions and problem-solving breakthroughs. For details, go to: www.marineenergytechnology.com. PennWell is managing this new event for NHA.

The Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET) and PennWell are working together to present the 10th annual Ocean Renewable Energy Conference during HydroVision International. Oregon … home of HydroVision for 2015 … is a global leader in the drive to commercialize ocean renewable energy. What better way to highlight this leadership than at the world’s largest hydro event?!

PennWell, volunteers on the HydroVision International steering committee, and OWET are working together to deliver a seven-session track dedicated to marine energy (details at: http://bit.ly/1Lj6krf). And, the HydroVision International exhibit hall will feature an “OWET Pavilion,” where you’ll find product and service suppliers with specific expertise in marine energy (generating electricity from the use of wave, tidal, and hydrokinetic power).

For this “old face” of hydro, I’ve found working on these two events with “new faces” to be exciting, invigorating, interesting, and a great personal opportunity to learn and grow.

Marla J. Barnes
Publisher and Chief Editor

*READ and WATCH PBS’s NewsHour segment on hydropower at: http://bit.ly/1DGDDne

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