The BHA Hydro Network is firmly established as the one-day UK networking conference and exhibition dedicated to the unique and diverse world of hydropower. Incorporating a comprehensive programme of speakers, this year’s event covered many of the challenges ahead along with some promising future opportunities and initiatives, whilst our technical exhibition showcased innovation and expertise and provided an exclusive networking opportunity across all areas of the industry. For the third year running, the BHA supported Community Energy England and Community Energy Wales at this event.
We were delighted to welcome Alan Whitehead MP, Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, who delivered the keynote address after lunch and gave an overview of the Labour Party renewables policy and support for hydropower.
Conference Session Overview and Presentations
CHAIR: Simon Hamlyn, Chief Executive Officer, BHA
- Simply the best? A proposal for an international protocol to promote hydropower as the foundation of a global renewable energy infrastructure – Julian Jones, Water 21: Julian kicked off the first session with a highly thought-provoking presentation in which he promoted the concept of an international protocol promoting hydropower as the bedrock of a universal infrastructure of renewable energy.
- UK Power Market, PPAs and route-to-market strategy – Charles Ward, New Stream Renewables: Charles was up next to enlighten us on how to maximise value from a PPA. The key messages were to ensure all potential buyers’ respective bids are collated in a manner which enables like-for-like comparison; to work to create competitive tension between suppliers, with all elements of the PPA bring compared on a like-for-like basis (i.e. power price, share of embedded benefits and share of green certificates); and to ensure that the tenders are made well in advance of the current PPA expiry, providing the potential buyer with all the information required – including full MPANs, half-hourly data and on-site/parasitic consumption (for site in construction, begin the tender process very early, ideally as soon as the MPANs become available).
- Blue energy for the future; wave, tidal stream, lagoons and barrages – Professor Chris Binnie: Chris discussed a review of tidal power, outlining the alternative ways of generating marine energy, indicating possible environmental impacts, potential capacity and likely energy costs. His conclusions were France’s La Rance tidal range scheme, which has been working for 50 years, proves that the technology works; tidal range energy in the UK has the potential to generate 30 TWh/y (7% of the total UK energy needs); tidal range adds diversity to the energy mix by producing variable but predictable power and a long term energy source without the need for rebuilding; and that government must support tidal range as a key element to the UK’s future energy mix.
- Running a large O&M fleet; real-life experiences – Dylan Roberts, Dulas: Dylan shared his experiences of running O&M services across multiple sites for a variety of clients. Focusing on the team’s experiences whilst operating as DCWW’s framework supplier for a 26-turbine fleet over the last 36 months, he highlighted some of the lessons learned through the process, drawing out the key principles that can be applied to O&M contracts.
- Is the tide turning for tidal range? – Henry Dixon, North Wales Tidal Energy: Henry gave the delegates an insightful view of the prospects for tidal energy in the UK, identifying a number of tidal lagoon schemes that have been proposed with barriers to development that have yet to be overcome. Henry posed the question “Is the tide now turning?”. Following the suspension of the Wylfa Newydd, Oldbury and Moorside nuclear power plants, the security and predictability of energy supply from tidal lagoons offers a valuable and reliable alternative. He then covered a number of other benefits from tidal lagoons, such as employment, local economic generation and coastal protection, all making tidal lagoons attractive to businesses, communities and local government in locations that are often challenged by economic blight.
CHAIR: Jonathan Cox, Erre Due
- Pigging hydro pipelines – Adam Cropper, Ellergreen: Adam reintroduced many of us – and opened the eyes of some of the delegates – to the wonderful and diverse world of pipe pigging. Who knew!? It is clear that there is a lot going on within the confines of buried pipelines and penstocks that can adversely affect the long-term performance of the hydro scheme, and due consideration for pigging is a priority – both from an inlet perspective and a ‘pig’ withdrawal viewpoint. there are some detail issues in terms of varying pipe diameters and configuration etc. that can affect the type of pig to be used, so a track record of diverse schemes should be paramount when selecting a suitable contractor. Sounds like a job for a specialist! Incidentally, it was pointed out that the pipe-cleaning device was named a ‘pig’ because it was originally made of straw and barbed wire and used in the American mid-west to clean steel gas pipes, making a scraping noise as it was drawn through which was likened to that of a screeching hog! Let’s hope that’s not an apocryphal tale!
- Increasing licensable take of water for existing hydro schemes in sensitive landscapes; a successful case study – Ed Bailey, Baileys and Partners: Ed has always been a fine speaker and he regaled us with a journey, albeit tortuous by dint of bureaucracy, through the challenges faced by one of his clients when trying to both repair and reinstate a hydro scheme on his land. Fortunately, Ed’s client was both brave and determined, so he was prepared to undertake the necessary background work to overturn the objections. Ed highlighted the fact that a four-month process took more like 12 months to complete, but the end result was worth it environmentally and financially with an increased power output. Expert professional representation is at the root of all well-judged schemes.
- The optimisation of operations of small-scale run-of-river hydropower plants – Jorn Baayen, Kisters: Jorn introduced delegates to the optimisation software that his firm had developed for run-of-river hydro plants. Though, at 10-11MW, his small hydro plants in mainland Europe are significantly larger than our small run-of-river schemes here in the UK! The example shown on the Meuse River in The Netherlands demonstrated how the sluice gates were raised to increase the head and thus alter turbine performance to match demand, whilst not detrimentally impacting on ecological river conditions.
- An overview of the Energy Local pilot – Josh Brown, Co-op Energy: Josh outlined the ethos and methodology employed by Co-op Energy when establishing the Energy Local pilot in Bethesda, North Wales and using power from a hydro turbine. The need for Advanced meters rather than normal smart meters seemed to be a major stumbling block at first but Co-op overcame it by purchasing the meters and donating them to the scheme. Local members have got used to deploying cheap energy when the app dictates to make best use of cheaper energy. There is still much to be done before the model can be rolled out nationally, but the longest journey starts with a first step, so let’s hope for many more examples and at greater scale.
CHAIR: Ed Bailey, Baileys and Partners
- The Labour Party renewables policy and support for hydropower – Alan Whitehead MP, Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change: Mr Whitehead gave an overview of the Labour Party renewables policy and support for hydropower.
- Low-head hydroelectric turbines – Harry Terri, Turbiwatt
- The abstraction reform landscape – Julie Dracup, Environment Agency
- EVs, storage and hydropower; a match made in heaven – Ian Cook
- Innovating in hydro; developing a strategy –Stephen Crosher, ReEnergise
CHAIR: David Harries, Aaron & Partners
- Creating a corporate place; how the UK implementation of the Eels Directive fails to recognise the benefits of hydropower – Julian Jones, Water 21: Julian spoke passionately and compellingly about the environmental management of rivers through the lens of the UK’s implementation of the Eels Directive, explaining how Defra’s approach to this is blinkered; how this is embedding degradation of river systems and reduction of fish stocks; and how hydro schemes can in fact assist in arresting or improving this (and the imperative of doing so).
The following two presentations from Richard Vogeli of Swiss firm Aqazoom and Mattias Kullberg of Norwegian firm Multiconsult, presented their innovative and practical solutions (in separate presentations) for reducing the cost and improving the reliability of hydro applications, in Aquazoom’s case specifically aimed at low-head applications. Each demonstrated the substantial benefits of a modular approach with the use of standardised components and off-site fabrication, coupled with simplified on-site construction.
- An environmentally-friendly low-head hydropower option – Richard Vogeli, Aquazoom
- Cost-efficient hydropower plants; how to reduce costs without impacting reliability – Mattias Kullberg, Multiconsult
- Life beyond financial incentives; earn up to 40.9p per kWh – Josh Riddett, Crypto Hunter: Josh took the conference into what was, for most, the unfamiliar world of blockchain and digital currencies, promoting the benefits of using hydro schemes to power the energy-hungry process of crypto currency ‘mining’, the specialist processors for which his company makes and sells. He explained that this potentially creates a greater yield for the hydro operator than through selling the energy to the grid or using it in an alternative way. Certainly, his presentation generated a great deal of interest and prompted a lively Q&A session!
Simon Hamlyn closed the event, thanking all those who contributed and everyone that attended.
Particular thanks went to Deepbridge Capital for sponsoring this year’s Hydro Network.
We hope to see you all at future BHA events!
The BHA has no shareholders and is funded entirely through membership and event revenues. All proceeds from this event will be invested into developing the UK hydro industry.
This event was organised and delivered in association with Sixty7 PR Ltd.