Kyoto 2012: Dams for a Changing World

The International Commission on Large Dams’ 80th Annual Meeting and 24th Congress, to be held June 2-8 in Kyoto, Japan, brings together dam experts from around the world to exchange their knowledge and experiences vital to the efficient management of dams and hydroelectric generating facilities.

By Tadahiko Sakamoto

Professionals in dam design, construction, maintenance and hydroelectric generation will be offered a series of educational seminars, tours of Japanese hydro facilities and a trade exhibition during the International Commission on Large Dams’ 80th Annual Meeting and 24th Congress, to be held June 2-8 in Kyoto, Japan.

Dams in Japan

Japan’s complex geological features and an abundance of rainfall from Asian typhoons have created a number of small river systems that provide ample opportunities for the development of innovations in flood control and, more recently, hydropower.

Japan is home to about 3,000 large dams (those 15 meters/49 feet or higher), 60% of which are concrete gravity dams. Construction of 65 dams is under way, 19 of which will be used for hydroelectric production totaling 968.6 MW; one of those is a 600 MW pumped-storage project.

Post-war Japan saw a surge in dam construction and hydropower development. An example of this is Japan’s tallest dam, Kurobe Dam, which was completed in 1963. Kurobe stands 186 meters (610 feet) and its accompanying power station has an installed capacity of 335 MW.

In 2008, Japan saw the completion of the Tokuyama Dam, a 161 meter-high (528 feet) rockfill embankment dam that impounds the country’s largest reservoir.

Tokuyama’s power station is expected to go into service in 2014 and will have an installed capacity of 153 MW.

As hydropower resources were developed, the country later tapped into pumped storage as a way to increase the supply of domestic energy. One such facility will be part of a technical tour being offered to conference delegates, while a seawater pumped-storage facility will be included in an after-conference study tour.

Exchanging information

Kyoto 2012 offers delegates five forums in which they can exchange and disseminate technical information.

The most formal opportunity for such exchange is during the 24th Congress, where four technical questions will be addressed. ICOLD’s member countries chose the questions, or topics, to reflect the current concerns of dam designers and operators.

The first of these questions to be considered by conference participants is environmentally friendly techniques for dams and reservoirs, including issues such as design and construction techniques; water quality and sediment; mitigation and compensation; and sustainable management of dams and reservoirs.

The second question addresses the topic of safety, including: issues of accidents and incidents at facilities; risks associated with human and organizational factors; specific risks for small dams; and risks specific to tailing dams, pumped storage, and other special purpose dams.

The third question covers discharge, examining issues such as: evaluation, revision and selection of extreme and design floods; recent trends in spillway design and upgrades; special risks from gate operations and floating debris; and energy dissipation, including stepped spillways, stilling basins and downstream erosion.

The fourth question covers aging and upgrading facilities, including risks associated with long-term behavior of dam foundations, dam materials and structures; upgrading for seismic safety; and making the choice between decommissioning or upgrading a facility.

In addition, a one-day symposium will be held on June 5. The theme is “Dams for a Changing World: Need for Knowledge Transfer across the Generations and the World.”

Topics to be discussed during this symposium, which will feature more than 300 papers from more than 40 countries, include:

– Impacts of climate change on dams and the benefits from dams;
– Dams for meeting and increasing demand of a growing world population;
– Knowledge and technology transfer in dam engineering;
– Advanced technologies for the construction of dams;
– New techniques to prevent and manage incidents and accidents;
– Earthquakes; and
– Geotechnical aspects of dam foundations.

The symposium is organized to give as many opportunities to present papers as possible. Experts will be asked to present the latest development in their fields of expertise and to give their views on key issues raised.

Papers will be presented orally by authors or displayed as posters in the lobby next to the meeting room.

Kurobe Dam is Japan’s tallest dam at 186 meters (610 feet) and its power station has an installed capacity of 335 MW.

Another educational opportunity is the four-day trade exhibition, from June 5-8, that will showcase the latest achievements and advances in dam technology and construction.

The exhibition is an opportunity to network with engineers, professionals, organizations and companies connected with the design, maintenance and management of dams.

Products and services that will be showcased during the exhibition include water resources management, construction and maintenance, engineering, project development, power plant design, project finance and many others.

A less formal but highly valuable opportunity is a series of meetings of the ICOLD technical committees. The technical committees will meet June 4 to discuss topics that could lead to the publication of technical papers.

Topics include the technical, environmental, financial and educational aspects of dam design, construction, maintenance and operation.

Delegates are welcome to participate as observers at these meetings, which provide an excellent opportunity to learn the important issues facing leaders in the dam industry.

Kyoto 2012 is also offering a series of technical tour opportunities near the conference site.

One-day tours of six sites on June 2 and June 3 will examine both old and new hydro projects near Kyoto.

The first stop will be the Lake Biwa Canal. It was constructed in 1890 to facilitate inland navigation, irrigation, fire prevention and, later on, hydroelectric production, making it Japan’s first hydro facility.

Today, the canal is used primarily for water supply, irrigation and firefighting.

The tour then goes on to Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake and a main source of water for Kyoto.

Visitors then go to the Seta River Weir. The project was constructed in 1905 primarily for flood control as part of efforts to control flow levels of the Seta River. A rebuilt weir was finished with 10 steel gates.

The next stop will be Amagase Dam. The dam is a 73 meter-high (239 feet) arch dam completed in 1964 and is part of the Kisenyama pumped-storage power station, serving as the system’s lower reservoir. Amagase Dam’s primary purpose is flood control, but it includes a power station with an installed capacity of 92 MW.

The technical tour then goes to Kisenyama Dam. Kisenyama is a 91 meter-high (299 feet) rockfill dam completed in 1970 as the upper dam of the Kisenyama pumped-storage power station.

The power station uses two 233 MW reversible pump-generator units to provide a capacity of 466 MW.

In addition, seven study tours across east Asia will be offered to delegates. Two of the tours will be offered before the conference while five others will take place afterwards.

Study Tour A will take place May 27-30 and will be in China. Participants will see Geheyan Dam, Maopingxi Dam, Shuibuya Dam and the highlight of the tour, the massive Three Gorges Dam and power station, with an installed capacity of 20,300 MW.

Study Tour B will be held May 28-31 in South Korea. On this tour, participants will get the opportunity to see the Gangjeong Weir and the Nakdong Estuary Barrage.

Study Tours C, D, E, F and G are all in Japan.

Study Tour C will occur June 9-13. Participants will see the Kyogoku power plant, Tobetsu Dam and Yubarishuparo Dam, all on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Tobetsu, a 52 meter-high (171 feet) dam that uses a trapezoidal design and a cemented sand and gravel construction technique, was completed in 2012.

One of Kyoto 2012’s post-conference study tours will visit the 30 MW Yanbaru seawater project on the island of Okinawa. Yanbaru, completed in 1999, is the world’s first seawater pumped-storage project.

Study Tour D will run from June 9-13. On this tour, participants will see Ikari Dam, Minamiaiki Dam and Ueno Dam. Ueno and Minamiaiki are part of the Kannagawa pumped-storage power project.

Study Tour E will run from June 9-13 and participants will see Kurobe Dam, the Nagaragawa Estuary Barrage, Nagawado Dam and Tokuyama Dam.

Study Tour F will run June 9-11. In it, participants will go to Miboro Dam, the Nagaragawa Estuary Barrage and Tokuyama Dam.

Finally, Study Tour G will be from June 9-14 and will explore Fukuji Dam, Haneji Dam, Ishikawauchi Dam, Kanasumi Dam, Komesu Underground Dam, Okukubi Dam, Ooseuchi Dam, Tsuruda Dam and the upper reservoir of the 30 MW Okinawa Yanbaru seawater project.

The Ishikawauchi, Ooseuchi and Kanasumi dams are all part of the 1,200 MW Omarugawa pumped-storage power project.

Yanbaru is an innovative project that was completed in 1999. With many of Japan’s potential pumped-storage sites already being used, Japanese officials tapped into using the Pacific Ocean as a lower reservoir for this pumped-storage facility on the island of Okinawa. Yanbaru is the world’s first seawater pumped-storage project.

To register for Kyoto 2012, visit: Online registration is available, or a pdf form can be downloaded and returned by mail or fax.

Dr. Tadahiko Sakamoto is President of the Japan Commission on Large Dams, which is hosting the International Commission on Large Dams’ annual meeting and triennial congress, known as ICOLD Kyoto 2012.

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