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Water infrastructure essential in tackling freshwater challenge

Water infrastructure essential in tackling freshwater challenge

18 June 2018

The International Hydropower Association addressed the challenges of managing freshwater and the opportunities provided by hydropower at an Institute of Mechanical Engineers seminar in London.

Participants at the event heard how worldwide hydropower installed capacity had reached 1,267 GW in 2017 – an increase of over 20 GW from 2016.

“Hydropower plays a role in more than 150 countries; it’s a widely distributed technology and industry,” said IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor during his keynote speech. 

“The management of freshwater is probably the biggest challenge faced by mankind this century," and we will need water infrastructure, especially as the developing world needs increased water services.

“To be able to deliver on the increasing demand, with a finite resource, we will need infrastructure to store water. Hydropower can contribute to that infrastructure by providing services and revenues which can justify the investment.”

Mr Taylor also explained how IHA’s work programmes can help to fill sector knowledge gaps and discussed the reporting benefits of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, an internationally recognised tool used to assess the performance of projects at various stages in their life cycles. 

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) seminar was entitled ‘Hydropower Engineering: Technologies, Projects and Future Developments’.

IHA was a supporting partner at the 14 June event, which featured presentations on key hydropower projects and recent sector developments, as well as a panel discussion on hydropower potential in the UK.

IHA members Andritz Hydro and Voith Hydro were represented among the day’s speakers, where asset management and pumped storage hydropower proved common themes of discussion.

Lars Meier, Head of Proposal Management at Voith Hydro, shared technical details on the upcoming modernisation of the Ffestiniog Power Station in North Wales, which was the UK’s first major pumped storage facility.

Ffestiniog, having been commissioned in 1963, is considered an “ageing plant” and modernisation work is due to start in January 2019.

Sean Kelly, project manager at SSE Generation Development, discussed the importance of pumped storage for a grid which is “changing fundamentally since it was set up in the early twentieth century.”

Mr Kelly said: “Pumped storage is an essential tool for system operators to balance the grid. We need to find a way to ensure that all the benefits pumped storage brings to the grid are recognised.” A decrease in pumped storage investment would mean finding alternative solutions, leading to “higher costs to the consumer, slower decarbonisation and probably less energy security.”

Other topics of discussion included tidal power, hydropower technology and the future of hydropower.

For more information on hydropower’s current challenges and opportunities worldwide, download the 2018 Hydropower Status Report.

To find out more about the IMechE event, visit its webpage.