BHA Hydro Network 2018

The BHA Hydro Network is the one-day UK conference and technical exhibition dedicated solely to the unique world of hydropower. Our 2018 event, which took place at The Metropole Hotel & Spa in Llandrindod Wells, Wales, on the 28th June, proved to be another busy and popular event.  The delegation of industry professionals, experts and some of hydropower’s leading practitioners joined a wide selection of stimulating speakers and a variety of exhibitors showcasing their expertise and sharing their knowledge and experiences. With significant changes to support mechanisms for hydropower after 2019, the BHA Hydro Network covered many of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Sponsored by Dulas and supporting for the second year running Community Energy Wales, Community Energy England and the Micro Hydro Association, we were delighted to welcome Jennifer Pride, Welsh Government’s Head of Onshore Renewable Energy to deliver the Keynote Address.

Conference Programme

Session One

CHAIR: Simon Hamlyn, Chief Executive Officer, BHA

In our opening session we heard about four very topical issues:

  • Keynote addressJennifer Pride, Welsh Government: Jenny Pride delivered the Keynote Address with an overview of Welsh energy policy. Jenny covered the current state of generation in Wales, the impact of decentralisation and locally used energy, and the decarbonisation of heat and transport. She also updated delegates of progress towards generation and ownership targets and how Welsh Government is encouraging their delivery, highlighting some of the current and future support programmes and drawing out some specific insights relevant to hydropower.
  • Turning reactive work into proactive investmentsPhil Horton, Dulas: Phil focused on how to turn reactive work into proactive investments. With the forthcoming changes to hydro’s financial support mechanisms, Phil highlighted the need to consider new opportunities to maximise revenues, describing some of the innovative ways in which Dulas helps its clients to achieve this. He demonstrated this with a case study showing a scheme that yielded an increase in annual generation of approximately 49% in an average year by applying a tailored O&M solution – something which looks likely to be an upward trend in promoting hydropower profitability.
  • Additional revenues for distributed energy resourcesBen Godfrey, Western Power Distribution: Ben spoke of additional revenue opportunities for distributed energy resources, explaining that as distribution network operators transition to become distribution system operators (DNO to DSO), their networks will become smarter and more flexible, thereby unlocking value for customers within a specific region.
  • Can alternative connection arrangements with DNOs increase the installation of hydro generation?Sonya Bedford, Stephens Scown: Recently awarded an MBE, Sonya asked if alternative connection arrangements with DNOs can increase the installation of hydro generation. Sonya explained that the amount of renewable energy being deployed has decreased significantly recently, due in part to the difficulty in obtaining affordable connection to the grid and, with the increased penetration of renewable energy over the last 10 years, DNOs are seeing constraints on their networks resulting in rising connection costs that can make many hydro projects unviable. Sonya considered a range of alternative connection arrangements that could provide a solution to this problem.

A refreshing and positive start to the day!

Session Two

CHAIR: Ed Bailey, Baileys & Partners

With an innovative theme, we were graced with the company of five very interesting speakers in our second session:

All in all a very impressive session with plenty of food for thought.

Session Three

CHAIR: Phil Horton, Dulas

In our third session, five speakers covered a range of topics, all of which were related to helping projects to succeed both practically and financially:

Overall, these presenters contributed to an upbeat message that the industry is looking to a positive future without significant subsidy.

Session Four

CHAIR: Richard Rees, North Wales Hydro

Our final session saw five speakers continue the themes of innovation and practical solutions to current challenges:

  • Airborne and terrestrial visionJonathan Wales, Costain: Jonathan provided an interesting update on the capabilities of drone and other camera technology for improving site safety and general information flow during the course of a project. More specifically for hydro, 4K technology can be used to map changes in gradient and for flood mapping in 3D.
  • Co-locating battery storage with a hydro schemeRuss Blaber, Cobalt: Russ gave an overview of the co-located hydro and battery storage schemes, which he has been involved in delivering for Eelpower and Barn Energy. Russ explained the complexity of the engineering solution for getting everything connected correctly. A sufficiently sized grid connection is key when it comes to adding battery technology onto a hydro scheme, where a 5-8 year payback is achievable.
  • Advanced pipeline technology for hydro projectsMark Stanway, Aquaspira: Mark presented the benefits of their composite steel reinforced pipe, which is suitable for hydro schemes with pressures of up to 1 Bar. The pipe is flexible but strong and very durable, with a 120-year design life and various fittings and accessories made to facilitate access or flushing out.
  • The challenges of upgrading existing hydro installationsJonathan Cox, Erre Due and Chris Henshaw, Bluenergy: Jonathan and Chris offered advice on the availability of trash rack cleaners for low head hydro schemes, giving examples of some case studies. Chris explained the importance of good remote monitoring for analysing turbine performance. He also discussed various ways to add value to operating schemes, such as adding an invertor to an Archimedean screw site, transferring water to the hydro intake from another watercourse to increase the capacity factor, the importance of pigging, and concentrating on the whole performance of the turbine rather than just peak output.
  • Smart grid and site optimisiationSimon Morris, Ricardo Energy & Environment: Simon focused on the benefits of two parties coming together to share a grid connection. He described the 350kW Dalavich Hydro Scheme, which was benefiting from active network management offered by a much larger neighbouring scheme when it wasn’t at peak output. This has facilitated a saving on grid connection fees and higher output for the scheme, which was otherwise limited to 50kW.

Simon Hamlyn closed the event, thanking all those who contributed and everyone that attended.

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