Hot Dam! HYDRO+ offers year-round learning

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Elizabeth Ingram, content director for Hydro Review and HYDROVISION International, walks you through the home of hydropower.

With travel essentially nonexistent and events sitting idle for the past year, Clarion Energy’s Hydro Group wanted to continue to provide vitally needed training and learning opportunities to the global hydroelectric power industry.


Hence the development of the free HYDRO+ Series of monthly webcasts on a wide range of topics. Since April 2020, the Hydro Group has presented nearly 30 individual training sessions whose content closely follows the summit tracks presented at the annual HYDROVISION International event.

These are:

  • Civil Works and Dam Safety
  • Energy Storage
  • Equipment and Technology
  • Market Trends and Asset Strategies
  • New Development
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Policies and Regulations
  • Water and Environment

Our upcoming three-day HYDRO+ virtual event in April has a theme of ‘Around the World with Hydro’ and features separate updates on the hydropower markets in Brazil, China and India, three of the largest hydropower-producing countries in the world. These sessions will be on April 20-22. For details, visit hydroplusseries.com.

AFTER ALL, EVERY PERSON THERE HAS THE SAME INTEREST AS YOU: HYDROPOWER AND DAMS.

Additional training sessions during this three-day series will cover Operations and Maintenance, Policies and Regulations and Water and Environment. Other targeted sessions may be offered as well and are currently in development.

A separate module of the April series – with a small registration fee – will offer Hydro Basics course, which is designed for those who are new to hydropower.

As an added benefit, attendees in any of the content sessions will receive a certificate of completion, which can be turned in for professional development hour credit.

Upcoming monthly HYDRO+ sessions will cover New Development in May and Market Trends and Asset Strategies in June. Additional virtual content will be offered during the annual HYDROVISION International event, to be held on July 27-29 in Spokane, Washington. See below for more information on HYDROVISION.

And speaking of the nearly 30 sessions already developed that I discussed above: all of those are available on demand, to view at your leisure. Once you register for the HYDRO+ platform, any of these previously recorded sessions can be viewed at any time, free of charge.

Learning in person

Walking into the HYDROVISION International event is a bit like walking into the biggest club meeting you’ve ever attended.

Image credit: HYDROVISION International

After all, every person there has the same interest as you: hydropower and dams. Everyone in the building likes to talk about their interest, and they like to meet others who share their interest. They enjoy reconnecting with old acquaintances (some they’ve known for decades) and making new friends.

At the same time, HYDROVISION International is the biggest hydropower training programme. To learn more visit www.hydroevent.com.

People who are new to hydro can learn the ins and outs through Waterpower Hydro Basics, a course that stretches over 1.5 days and more than 10 separate sessions ranging from turbine basics to operations to regulatory issues.

For more seasoned personnel, eight distinct Summit tracks (listed above) offer something for everyone, no matter your specific focus. You can spend two full days attending sessions tailored to educate and inform on everything from Civil Works and Dam Safety to Water and Environment, along with everything in between.

Even more learning is available through two Knowledge Hubs in the exhibit hall, with more than two dozen individual presentations on a variety of topics, under the umbrellas of Learning from Case Studies and Technology Horizons. And, specialised opportunities are available during our Networking Lunch, which features moderated topic discussions, and the Women with Hydro Vision programme.

For a high-level perspective on the industry and where it is headed, the Opening Keynote will provide valuable insights and perspectives. And a Utility Executive Roundtable will feature several C-level executives from power producing companies discussing their challenges, strategies, growth opportunities and much more.

And, if that’s not enough, two in-depth technical tours of hydroelectric plants are offered. Monday features a full-day tour to two projects, one owned by local utility Avista. Tuesday features a morning walking tour of two additional Avista hydro projects.

More than education

In a nutshell, HYDROVISION International is the world’s largest hydro industry event. Each year, the event attracts more than 3,000 attendees from about 50 countries, and includes more than 300 companies that provide products and services to the hydropower and dams markets worldwide. This year, HYDROVISION International takes place on July 27-29 in Spokane, Wash., U.S.

But it is so much more than these numbers. It is the best place to engage with the industry overall, to learn and to grow, to gain insights from others, to share perspectives and to see how dynamic hydropower is and will continue to be.

Image credit: HYDROVISION International

And you don’t have to just take my word for it. Listen to John Etzel, track chair for Market Trends and Asset Strategies, who has attended HYDROVISION International many times. “I find each year to be more fulfilling than the year before it, often like a catalyst or chain reaction that invigorates and energises those who work in the industry.

“This collection of professionals provides for the makings of the most valuable week of the year for many of us to be able to celebrate our successes, share our challenges, collaborate on new ways to advance the industry, and build on our relationships.”

To ensure attendees have plenty of time to meet and share with others, HYDROVISION International offers a plethora of networking opportunities. These include receptions on Tuesday and Wednesday, the closing party on Thursday, and lunches and breaks throughout the week.

Why the Pacific Northwest

When it comes to hydropower in the US, the Pacific Northwest of the country is a powerhouse. What makes this region so unique? According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council: The first hydroelectric dam in the Pacific Northwest was built in Spokane in 1885. In 1889, the first long-distance transmission of electricity in the Northwest began in Portland, where a direct-current line was built from a small hydropower plant to power street lights downtown, a distance of about 13mi (21km).

Beginning in the late 1930s, the production of hydropower was the primary instrument of economic change in the West. Nowhere in the West – or elsewhere else in the nation for that matter – is hydropower as important as an instrument of economic change or factor in the electricity supply as in the Pacific Northwest.

And of all the hydropower produced in the Northwest, the largest share is produced at dams on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Fully 40% of the electricity used in the Northwest is generated by federal dams in the Columbia River Basin and sold by the Bonneville Power Administration.

The percentage of hydropower increases when non-federal dams are included, and it rises again with the incorporation of dams in the Canadian portion of the Columbia Basin — B.C. Hydro sells some power into the US Northwest — and the addition of federal and non-federal dams outside the basin.

Today there are 14 dams on the mainstem Columbia River, three in British Columbia and 11 in the United States. Five of the American dams are non-federal. In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower shifted the nation’s power policy from one of federal dam construction to one of encouraging local utilities to build dams on major rivers.

Three public utility districts in central Washington, in partnership with investorowned utilities, took advantage of this shift and built four huge dams on the Columbia during the 1950s and 1960s: Priest Rapids (originally authorised as a federal dam), Wanapum, Rocky Reach and Wells.