Volume 5 Issue 3 March

Optimizing Operations

By Kris Polly

Hydropower facilities have a lot of moving parts—both literally and metaphorically. Hydropower owners and operators must keep track of a multitude of operational concerns, ranging from the facilities and machines themselves to their statutory monitoring and licensing requirements to workforce development. Luckily, the individuals and companies in our industry are working to fine-tune every aspect of hydropower operations.

Dam monitoring is critical for regulatory compliance, risk management, and regular maintenance. Rezatec brings a novel solution to the market that combines satellite data and artificial intelligence. Its visual multispectral and radar data provide information on millimetric movements, vegetation, moisture levels, and more, helping dam and hydropower operators to understand their structures’ normal ranges of variation, assess risk, prioritize maintenance, and more. Camilla Braithwaite, Rezatec’s head of product, tells us more about this fascinating technology.

SWCA Environmental Consultants supports clients with projects in power generation, transmission, and water, including hydropower. In our conversation with Nuria Holmes, a principal Federal Energy Regulatory Commission team lead at SWCA, and Bill Spain, a principal environmental planner, we discuss SWCA’s full spectrum of services for new and existing hydropower and pumped storage facilities.

Croatia-based KONČAR – Generators and Motors designs, manufactures, and installs generators in 54 countries. We speak with Management Board Member Mario Đaković about the company’s turnkey solutions for the hydropower industry, which span design, engineering, manufacturing, and project execution, and its plans for expansion in North America.

When the carbon brushes in hydroelectric generators wear down, they create extremely fine carbon dust that can get lodged in the windings and active parts of generators, increasing the risk of electrical arcing. As Laurent Dault tells us, MERSEN Power Transfer Technologies has a new patented technology designed to dramatically reduce this issue: the DustCollector, a plug-and-play solution that can be retrofitted onto any generator.

 Workforce development and turnover is an important topic for the entire hydro industry. We interview Jennifer Daw and Elise DeGeorge of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Bree Mendlin of the Hydropower Foundation about the findings of a joint workforce development project.

Finally, we feature an article by Dan Parker and Dan Gessler of Alden about everything that goes into hydropower turbine testing—and the benefits of carrying out such testing, which in some cases is required to secure grant funding.

From artificial intelligence to generator components, from environmental expertise to testing know-how, hydropower professionals are bringing incremental improvements to everything they do, and optimizing the entire industry in the process.

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.