2013 BHA Summer Hydro Forum
25 June 2013
University of the West of England
The third Annual BHA Summer hydropower Forum was held on 25 June 2013 at the Exhibition and Conference Centre of the University of the West of England, Bristol. The conference aimed to view progress being made in global hydropower innovation and the development of hydropower in the UK. The event centred on issues and achievements in England and Wales from where most of the delegates came.
The accompanying technical exhibition attracted exhibitors from all areas of the industry, providing the opportunity for the seeds of new business relationships to be sown and existing ones blossom.
Introduction and keynote speeches
After a welcome address by Andy Billcliff, Head of Renewables, RWE npower renewables and current Chairman of the BHA two keynote speakers allowed us to compare small, mill-based hydro and substantially larger new pumped storage – both in Wales.
- Catherine Mackay, Principal Environmental Consultant at AECOM described the future scope and prospects for pumped storage in the UK. She is intimately involved with the Quarry Battery Company’s Glyn Rhonwy Pumped Storage scheme in North Wales and explained the development process which is currently at the planning permission stage. This is a very unique project in that there has been little pumped storage development for fifty years and none of it under private ownership. See Catherine's presentation here.
- Mike Godsell, Owner of Dreifa Mills, South Wales and previously a 747 captain with British Airways described his refurbishment of one of the mill’s waterwheels and how this was achieved using personal and local craftsmanship and how he successfully engaged with the Environment Agency and angling interests. This was a story of determination and passion and ultimately success and a great deal of satisfaction. See Mike's presentation here.
THEME I: Innovation & Development
Under the chairmanship of Jamie Needle, Development Manager, Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd this session looked at a range of areas from new technologies to creative solutions in developing and managing hydro projects:
- Introduction to the Steffturbine – Chris Brett, Owner, Hydro Survey Ltd. Following a successful launch of the Steffturbine onto the UK market at All Energy earlier this year, Hydro Survey Limited presents the machine to the Summer Forum delegates. The Steffturbine is a modern interpretation of the undershot waterwheel but has the advantage that it can operate on heads up to 5m. Designed to be modular, the machine is ideal for installation to existing infrastructure for example at old mills, on existing hydro compensation flow spillways, in raw water inflows and waste water process and outflows.
- Characterising environmental design for high efficiency low-head hydropower – Andrew Jones, Executive Director, Waratah Power. This paper presented the approach and activities within an international research program being run and funded by Waratah Power and the governments of Australia and of New South Wales, and CGIAR, with participation of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (US) and the University of Laos. The program consists of combined lab and field research alongside low-head hydropower project design and implementation. The research involves the assessment of conditions and thresholds for main fish passage constraints (shear, pressure, blade strike) and species-specific fish bypass design, for the creation of best-practice design criteria for hydropower developers. The work thus far has focussed on Australia and Laos, drawing from experience in the U.S. The second phase of this work is now beginning, involving the implementation of low-head hydro engines at existing low-head irrigation weirs. The paper presented some preliminary views and findings, and provided inferences for the UK.
- The use of simulation in commissioning a hydropower governor – Dr Dewi Jones, Director, GWEFR Cyf. Dr Jones described how a real-time simulator was used to aid the commissioning of both hardware and software for a new governor at the Dinorwig pumped storage hydroelectric station. Virtually all of the new governor’s actions can be verified before it is connected to the physical plant so that the risk of damage during physical commissioning is mitigated and the period and cost of the outage are reduced. The overview included a distributed-parameter model of the hydraulics, nonlinear pump-turbine characteristics, modechange sequencer logic, ancillary plant and the electronics and user interfaces.
- Review of innovative solutions and methods resulting in successful implementation of MHP developments on water industry assets – Jonathan Cox, Senior Hydro Engineer, Dulas and Dr Mike Pedley, Head of Energy, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water. Welsh water gave the context for renewable energy development on their assets, including targets in the short and medium term. Dulas gave a contractor’s view of the engineering issues that need tackling, often in innovative ways, to achieve satisfactory implementation of embedded hydro schemes.
Theme II: Aspects of Project Development
The Chairman for this session was Chris Brett, Owner, Hydro Survey Ltd. This theme followed on from Theme I, which looked at innovation and development. There are a number of new issues that hydropower developers are facing and this theme highlighted some of the related obstacles with approaches on how to overcome these challenges:
- The realities of building hydro schemes – Dr Bob Middleton, TLS Hydro. Dr Bob Middleton set out what to look for when deciding to embark on a new hydro development and discussed the areas where risks can arise at all stages of the project. He provided some advice on how to avoid these pitfalls and how to manage the development process through to a successful completion of the project.
- Is your site suitable? – Edmund Bailey MRICS, Partner, Carter Jonas. A project management risks case study using Ed’s past and current work, mainly in Wales on the development of small hydropower projects.
- Hydropower at Gerlan; from conception to Kilowatts – Dr Jamie Needle, Development Manager, and Dean Needle, Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd. Using their new twin 500kW installations as a case study, Dean and Jamie outlined all the stages in developing new hydropower in Wales. This ran from site finding through design and permissions, procurement and finance, construction and installation, eventually coming to commissioning and operation and potentially happily ever after!
- The Environment Agency and the opposition from the Angling Lobby; a developer’s perspective – John Blowes, Director and Project manager, Halton Lune Hydro. John Blowes presented the Company’s experiences through the process of achieving consents to build a flagship community hydroelectric scheme at the historic site on the River Lune in Halton, Lancaster. His particular focus was the angling lobby that seems to have more on its agenda than representing anglers, and its influence on the Environment Agency’s need to provide fair and balanced evaluations in a timely manner, leading to properly enforceable licences.
THEME III: Hydropower Policy & Regulation
The Chairman for this session was David Williams, Chief Executive Officer, BHA. Proposed changes in regulation and application of local and national policy will impact on hydro development in the coming months. What are the key issues on the horizon and what does the hydro industry need to do next?
- Environment Agency Flows Consultation proposals – Mark Ellis-Jones, Project Executive for the Hydropower Programme, Environment Agency. The whole of this session centred on the very recent proposal for flow regimes for hydropower licencing in England after the consultation on this topic in April this year. The resulting proposal has been soundly condemned by the BHA and its members and the ensuing discussion with Mr Ellis-Jones indicated the high degree of consternation at the EA’s directors’ decision to refer this proposal to its Board at its meeting in mid-July.