Tech Notes

Online platform to inform about Chile hydropower study results

An online platform called Hidroelectricidad Sustenable has been launched to publish information from a study on the hydropower potential of 12 river basins in central-southern Chile. The study found that the basins have hydro development potential of 11 GW, along with an additional 5 GW in the region of Aysen, according to a report by BNamericas.

A more in-depth study is under way of the seven basins, out of the 12 total, with the most energy potential.

The platform, launched by Chile’s Ministerio de Energia on Feb. 1 and available at, is intended to provide citizens access to information about hydroelectric development in the country.

The ministry has stated a goal of adding 100 new small hydro plants, with installed capacity of less than 20 MW each, by 2018, the end of President Michelle Bachelet’s term in office.

GE Renewable receives EEA grant for hydro technology research

GE Renewable Energy has received more than US$2.25 million in a European Economic Area grant to support hydropower research and development at its Spanish entities.

The award, given by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) through the EEA-Grants program, will be used for R&D associated with equipment for the the 300 MW Iveland plant in Norway and 72 MW Tepekisla in Turkey.

EEA-Grants is designed to reduce economic and social disparities in Europe, while strengthening relations between donor states and eligible member states of the EU.

Equipment contracts for Iveland and Tepekisla were originally awarded to Alstom. The company was to supply two 35 MW horizontal Kaplan turbines, inlet valves, generators and a 4 MW Francis turbine for Tepekisla, as well as a 50 MW turbine and associated equipment for Iveland.

GE Renewable Energy took over the supply contracts when GE completed its acquisition of Alstom in November.

UK group wins grant to develop hydro turbine simulation system

A US$144,000 grant from think tank Innovate UK will be used by a group led by manufacturer Your Hydro to develop a new modeling and visualization system for hydroelectric turbines.

The collaboration also includes the Centre for Modeling and Simulation (CFMS) and computational fluid dynamic specialist WIKKI Ltd., who will work to design what Your Hydro calls a “virtual turbine environment.”

“We will use this funding to develop an in-house capability for computational fluid dynamics, obtain access to high-performance computing and utilize the ability to assess the feasibility of a proposed hydroelectric site,” said Your Hydro Design Engineer Edis Loveless.

Based on simulation developed for the aerospace industry, the turbine environment system will also allow for the introduction of ancillary devices.

Study says more focus on basin planning needed

A study recently published in Science magazine indicates freshwater biodiversity is at risk in three of the world’s largest tropic river basins.

The authors say that the Amazon, Congo and Mekong are experiencing an unprecedented boom in construction of dams that impound water for hydroelectric facilities. Using new analytical tools and high-resolution environmental data, the authors were able to “clarify trade-offs between engineering and environmental goals,” which “can enable governments and funding institutions to compare alternative sites for dam building.”

The summary indicates that, “These projects address important energy needs, but advocates often overestimate economic benefits and underestimate far-reaching effects on biodiversity and critically important fisheries.”

The authors point to the fact that current site-specific assessment protocols largely ignore cumulative impacts on hydrology and ecosystem service. They call for “more sophisticated and holistic hydropower planning, including validation of technologies intended to mitigate environmental impacts.”

Read a summary at

Pumped storage hydropower discussed in energy storage report

A focus on levelized cost of electricity can be misleading when comparing the array of storage technologies available, according to a report by the World Energy Council. For E-storage: Shifting from Cost to Value, Wind and Solar Applications, a cost modeling process was employed that repeatedly uncovered the same issues, namely the importance of defining the business model under consideration and how the storage plant was being operated.

With regard to pumped storage hydropower, the report indicates the lowest cost reduction from the 2015 study period to 2030 of all the technologies, due to current maturity level. In fact, the report says, “Pumped storage hydropower and compressed air energy storage are the most mature and other technologies bring a cost and risk premium due to their lower levels of commercial maturity.”

Pumped storage was found to have some of the lowest specific investment costs and has one of the lowest levelized costs of storage of all the technologies studied.

The report is available at

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Tech Notes

Testing silt management methods at Trevallyn Dam

Hydro Tasmania, in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government and Launceston Flood Authority, is trialing the effectiveness of a controlled release of water from Trevallyn Dam coordinated with silt raking operations on the removal of silt from the Tamar estuary.

The Tamar flood levee protection scheme is designed to prevent flooding of the low-lying areas of Launceston if there is a significant flood event. A build-up of sediment has an adverse impact on the effectiveness of this scheme. The levees were recently upgraded at a cost of $58 million.

The three-day trial water release was undertaken by Hydro Tasmania to coordinate with the strongest tide events. LFA coordinated silt raking operations during the water release. Bathymetric surveys were carried out before and after the trial water release to measure the extent of sediment removed.

The cost and economic benefits of providing water from hydro generation infrastructure to support silt raking operations in years with low natural inflows and few flood events are being assessed. Trevallyn Dam impounds water for a 95.8 MW powerhouse.

Silt raking has taken place in the Tamar estuary previously, such as in 2014, when rainfall was low and there were no significant spill events over Trevallyn Dam. The raking campaign removed 100,000 m3 of sediment, which is not considered sufficient to maintain the ongoing efficacy of the flood levees.

Learn the hydro industry FAQs at

The editors have compiled a pretty extensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers. Most recently, we added information on all the non-profit associations and groups that relate to the hydroelectric power industry in some capacity.

This new information includes:

– The association/organization’s name

– A contact person (if available) and their job title

– Location (city, state, zip and country)

– Telephone number

– Email address

– Website URL

Our goal in providing this data is to keep you up to date on resources that can help you do your job better, more efficiently and more effectively. If you want to contact an association in Brazil or find an expert on concrete repair, this page will help.

We intend to keep our FAQ page updated. So send your question to and we’ll answer it on that page.

Canada to decarbonize its energy systems with plans that include hydro

Canada needs to produce twice as much renewable electricity compared to current amounts. The increase in renewable energy is a key finding in “Powering Climate Prosperity: Canada’s Renewable Electricity Advantage,” a report released in November by the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity.

The report outlines Canada’s current renewable electricity production and explores how the nation can dramatically reduce carbon emissions by 2050. It argues three significant changes to Canada’s energy production and consumption are required by 2050 if the country does its part to prevent average global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels. Specifically, the needs are:

– Intensify efforts to cut energy waste across the economy;

– More than double renewable electricity generation capacity; and

– Increase use of electricity as the “clean fuel of choice” to power the economy.

The report draws on data and modeling conducted by the Low Carbon Pathways group at Carbon Management Canada and published September 2014 in “Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in Canada.”

The report was released in conjunction with the release of the 16-country report in Paris, France, by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations.

The report is available at

Book offers updated hydro wheel information for owners & operators

The third edition of Hydro Wheels: A Guide to Maintaining and Improving Hydro Units provides practical, effective information to help project operators diagnose and remedy common hydro wheel problems.

Authored by 30-year hydropower industry veteran Thomas Spicher, the expanded version of Hydro Wheels adds a chapter titled “New and Upgraded Hydro Turbines.” This new material provides guidance in establishing long-term, highly-reliable service from turbine units through procurement and specification improvements.

This book is available for purchase from


The IGTC Powerplant Technical Forums site has achieved 3,100 members. The site has been online since March 2010. Technical Forum topic areas ( include generators and hydraulic, steam and gas turbines.

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