Tech Notes

Hydroelectricity growing worldwide, study indicates

A recent report published by the Worldwatch Institute indicates hydropower consumption increased more than 5% between 2009 and 2010.

The study found hydroelectricity accounted for a 3,427 TWh — or 16.1% — of global electrical consumption by the end of 2010.

China led the world in hydropower production, producing 721 TWh in 2010 and having an installed capacity of 213 GW. In all, hydroelectricity accounts for about 17% of China’s domestic electricity usage, and the country is planning to add 140 GW of hydropower by 2015. China’s hydropower boom is one reason the Asia-Pacific region generated roughly 32% of the world’s hydropower in 2010.

Meanwhile, Africa produces the least hydropower but has perhaps the greatest potential for increased production. The continent produced 3% of the world’s power in 2010.

The report shows that four countries — Albania, Bhutan, Lesotho and Paraguay — generate all their electricity from hydropower, while 15 countries generate at least 90% from hydropower. Iceland, New Zealand and Norway produce the most hydropower per capita.

Small hydropower facilities, which the report defined as plants that generate 100 kWh or less, accounted for roughly 60 GW (6%) worldwide. But, the study notes it is a sector that has grown quickly over the past decade.

ABB to install UHVDC system in India

Engineering conglomerate ABB has been awarded an order worth more than US$900 million to deliver a 1,060 mile-long ultrahigh-voltage direct current transmission system.

The link will connect hydropower from northeast India to the region of Agra in central India and will represent, according to ABB, a new benchmark in HVDC technology.

Northeast India has abundant hydropower resources scattered over a large area, with load centers often thousands of miles away. The country plans to create regional pooling points to collect electricity from several hydropower stations and transport it via “power superhighways” to major urban load centers.

The UHVDC link will operate at 800 kV and have a converter capacity of 8,000 MW. When at full operating capacity, it will have the means to supply electricity to 90 million people, according to ABB.

ABB is executing the $1.1 billion project in conjunction with Indian utility Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited. Commissioning is expected to take place in 2015.

Annual Platts Global Energy Awards honor hydro industry

Several members from hydroelectric-related industries received honors from the 13th annual Platts Global Energy Awards held this month in New York City.

The awards — created to “honor and recognize those who have transcended the status quo in the name of leadership, innovation and performance” — were given in 19 categories.

Of interest to the hydropower industry are the awards given to Petrobras, E.ON Climate & Renewables, Southern Company, and Richard Kelly, former chief executive officer of Xcel Energy.

Petrobas walked away with Energy Producer of the Year honors in the “Vision & Leadership” category and an Energy Producer of the Year award for “Operational Excellence.” The Brazil-based energy conglomerate has expanded its portfolio to include small hydroelectric plants in small urban centers and rural regions in recent years.

E.ON Climate & Renewables was awarded the title Green Energy Generator of the Year for “aggressively pursuing low or zero-emission energy production.” E.ON is a global corporation with interests in many renewable energy sources, including a number of hydro projects in Europe.

Southern Company claimed Power Company of the Years honors for demonstrating “strategic forethought, technical know-how and a determination never to let the customer down,” according to Platts’ web site. Southern Company, one of the largest power suppliers in the USA, serves more than 4.4 million customers and operates more than 30 hydro plants in Alabama and Georgia. The company was also a sponsor for the 2010 Hydro Research Foundation’s Hydro Fellows Program in 2010.

And retired Xcel Energy president and CEO Richard C. Kelly was one of three who received Platts’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Kelly retired in August 2010 after 43 years with Xcel and predecessor companies in the USA.

For a full list of winners, visit the Platts Global Energy Awards website at

Malaysia utility completes IHA sustainability protocol training

The International Hydropower Association completed the first training session for its Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol in November, educating employees of Malaysia utility Sarawak Energy Berhad in using the hydro development tool.

“Sarawak Energy is the first of the IHA Sustainability Partners to receive training on the protocol, representing a key milestone in the development of the protocol as a tool to guide sustainability in the sector,” IHA Program Director Cameron Ironside says. “The protocol provides a common language around which issues of sustainability can be discussed and understood, and such training with multiple stakeholders contributes significantly to the process.”

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol offers a consistent, globally applicable method of assessing performance in about 20 vital topics of the sustainability of hydropower facilities, depending on the stage of the assessment. The topics cover the four principal pillars of sustainability: social, economic, environmental, and technical.

In October 2011, an IHA panel conducted the first sustainability assessment of a hydroelectric project, Australia’s 95.8 MW Trevallyn project, using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

In addition to Sarawak Energy employees, participants in the training included representatives of the Sarawak State Planning Unit, Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board, and Sarawak Ministry of Public Utilities.

“The knowledge gained will help us apply the highest levels of international sustainability best practice to all our hydropower projects,” Sarawak Energy spokesman Haniza Hamid said.

Sarawak Energy, which is building the 2,400 MW Bakun hydro project in the state, is planning several other hydro projects including 944 MW Murum, 1,000 MW Baram, 300 MW Metjawah, and 150 MW Limbang.

IEEE releases standard on unique identification in hydro facilities

IEEE announces availability of a new standard — the Recommended Practice for Unique Identification in Hydroelectric Facilities.

This 47-page standard is intended to provide a unique identification system for hydro facilities. It segregates and incorporates plant, unit, system and component identifiers as a minimum.

The Hydroelectric Power Subcom-mittee of the Energy Development and Power Generation Committee of the IEEE Power Engineering Society developed the standard.

— The standard can be purchased in pdf form for $65 ($80 non-members) and printed form for $80 ($100 non-members) at:;product_id=1814806.

Water jet removes damaged spillway concrete at Simon Bolivar

Corporacion Electrica Nacional, owner and operator of the 10,300 MW Simon Bolivar (Guri) project in Venezuela, used a Conjet robot to perform spillway repairs to the dam.

The Simon Bolivar project, on the Caroni River in Bolivar State, began operating in 1978. Two powerhouses contain a total of 20 turbines with annual generating capacity of 47,000 GWh. The dam features steel gates on top of the concrete section that control overflow down three spillway channels. Together, these channels have a combined flow capacity of 27,000 m3/sec.

After being in operation for more than 30 years and being exposed to sunlight and the force of the fast-flowing water, the surfaces on parts of the spillway were eroded, with loosening of the concrete. Repairs were required to one spillway channel, with partial repairs needed on another. Corporacion Electrica Nacional awarded a contract for the spillway renovation to Fapco C.A. of Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar, Venezuela.

Use of pneumatic breakers would leave fractures and micro-cracking in the undamaged concrete left in place, so Fapco proposed using a high-pressure water jet to selectively remove only the weakened and damaged sections of the spillway. This also would leave a rough surface for bonding of the fresh concrete.

Fapco worked with Swedish company Conjet AB, which recommended a Conjet Robot 364 operating on a platform fabricated by Fapco. The robot operated at water pressures up to 1,200 bar to remove weakened and damaged concrete to depths ranging from 20 mm to 150 mm. Concrete removal was up to 60 m2 per day.

Once damaged concrete was removed, Fapco spray-applied mortar with a strength of 800 kN/m2 in areas less than 100 mm deep and concrete with a strength of 500 kN/m2 in deeper areas.

Fapco began the repairs in late 2009 and completed them in May 2011.

Book available on hydropower in Nepal

Review by David Appleyard, chief editor

The Independent Power Producers Association in Nepal announces availability of a book, Hydropower Nepal.

“Celebrating 100 years of hydroelectricity in Nepal” is the byline to this beautifully photographed and presented book. Packed with information, this is a handsome reference work that would look good on any bookshelf.

Though clearly aimed at the layman, the depth of research author Khadga Bahadur Bisht has included nonetheless makes this a superb catalogue of everything from the early history of Nepal to the flora and fauna and the 1911 origins of hydroelectricity in Nepal and its subsequent development.

As well as an overview of the hydrology of Nepal, the book includes comprehensive profiles of the country’s major river systems. There is also a detailed look at policy development and financing history and chapters on the major power plants of Nepal, the transmission and distribution system, and corporate social responsibility in hydropower.

The final chapter is titled “Towards a New Hydropower Century” and takes us on a journey into the second century of Nepalese hydropower and a future of 25 GW of hydro in the next 20 years.

In authoring this book, Bisht, one of the founder members of IPPAN, successfully delivers a celebratory view of both current and future hydro in Nepal, and — together with useful annex material including a river inventory and the 2001 hydro power policy document — this book potentially holds real business value, too. Above all, it left me thinking that it might be nice to pack a bag and seek out for myself some of Nepal’s white gold, its water.

More HRW Current Issue Articles
More HRW Archives Issue Articles

No posts to display