Tech Notes

Satellites could help Brazil’s hydro operators forecast weather

Brazilian researchers have met to discuss the use of satellites to collect hydrometeorological data to better forecast weather-related events.

According to a government release, representatives from the country’s national water agency (ANA), space agency (AEB) and space research institute (INPE) hope to use the data to assess and pinpoint hydrological events like drought and rain with more accuracy.

The research could be particularly important in Brazil, where, according to power sector monitoring committee CMSE, more than 65% of the power supply comes from hydro sources. Droughts early in 2013 led to fears that Brazil’s hot, dry summer could strain the available power supply and force energy rationing.

The government hopes to launch its first locally-developed satellite by 2021.

Voith participates in German Industry Innovation Awards

Voith presented its StreamDiver turbine at the German Industry Innovation Awards 2014, representing hydropower in the competition as innovative technology.

StreamDiver reached the finals, gaining a place in the top four of the large enterprises category. In the final, the technology was only beaten by BMW, Voith says.

This small hydro technology is built to be compact, simple and low-maintenance. It can be used in places where it has previously been impossible economically or for environmental protection reasons to develop hydropower, Voith says.

These awards honor the most important achievements of German industry in scientific, technical, entrepreneurial and intellectual innovation. They are under the patronage of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Bhutan company completes two-week training program

A 15-member delegation from Druk Green Power Corporation of Bhutan recently completed a two-week training program at the Entura clean energy and water institute.

The program includes courses in hydropower development, hydrology, project economics, environmental and social safeguards, and business systems and leadership. Training involves classroom-based learning but also field trips to some of Tasmania’s hydropower schemes. Hydro Tasmania’s strong asset base in hydropower is used to provide real-world experience of theory-based studies, according to the institute.

The training is funded under the Australia Awards Fellowships, administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The fellowships aim to develop leadership, address regional development priorities, and strengthen partnerships between Australian organizations and partner organizations in developing countries.

Druk Green Power is a government-owned company. The government of Bhutan wants to provide electricity to all households by 2020 and create revenue through export of energy to India. “Developing capability within Bhutan in sustainable hydropower development will provide a foundation to successfully implement the government’s planned energy development projects,” says Dr. Amanda Ashworth, director of the institute.

Entura is Hydro Tasmania’s consulting business. The Entura clean energy and water institute was launched last year to help deliver training for utilities, businesses and individuals in the areas of clean energy and water management.


University hopes to use satellites to aid micro hydro development

Researchers from the University of Leicester and High Efficiency Heating UK Ltd. are hoping to use satellite data as a means of simplifying the process of locating sites for micro hydro projects.

The partners were awarded a US$201,550 grant from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board for work on the project, which is being called ISMORTASED, or “Identification of Sites for Micro-Hydropower On Rivers Through Applied Satellite and Environmental Data.”

The university will use its expertise in geographical information systems (GIS) to develop a method designed to cut costs in identifying potential small hydro sites.

Work on the GIS will be coordinated by the university’s Department of Geography, which said it will develop a prototype system to combine as many as two dozen data sets to evaluate sites.

“We hope that the widespread proliferation of run-of-river micro hydropower will help towards a stable, green, constant and predictable supply of power in the next few years,” said Andy Baxter, High Efficiency Heating managing director. “We have to combine electricity storage with a reliable and constant energy source. Hydropower is half of that solution.”

Alstom receives award for work on China’s Xiangjiaba plant

Alstom was given an Excellent Supplier award by China Three Gorges Corp. in recognition of its work on the 6,400 MW Xiangjiaba project. The award reflects Alstom’s “performance in contract execution, excellent quality and on-time delivery of hydro turbine generator units and auxiliary equipment,” the company said.

Alstom designed and manufactured four 800 MW units for the project, and they entered commercial operation between November 2012 and June 2013. The turbines were coupled with 889 MVA generators, making them the most powerful hydro units in the world, according to Alstom.

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