Volume 5 Issue 6 June

The Importance of Digitalization for Hydropower

By Kris Polly

To a great extent, the physical side of hydropower infrastructure is already highly optimized. However, digitalization offers significant opportunities to improve operations, power trading and dispatch, and revenue. To push this process forward, Austria-based HYDROGRID has created a real-time data hub called Insight with modules for data capture and communications, inflow planning, automated generation and energy bidding planning, maintenance planning, and more. In our cover story, we speak with CEO Janice Goodenough about the company’s offerings and the promise of digitalization.

Further pursuing the topic of digitalization, we speak with Quentin Ploussard, an energy systems engineer at Argonne National Laboratory who is developing modeling tools to help hydropower operators better manage reservoir operations, power generation, the timing of water releases, modernization options, and more.

Next, we learn about two federal programs that can be sources of funding for hydropower. Phil Kangas, the director of outreach and business development at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO), joins us to speak about the debt financing the LPO offers for high-impact, large-scale energy infrastructure projects. We go into detail on the programs available for hydropower as well as how the LPO helps applicants put together successful applications. Then, we speak with Aaron Snyder of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Corps Water Infrastructure Financing Program, which provides low-cost, long-term federal loans for dam safety projects.

Last, we bring you a fascinating story of two linked careers in the hydropower field. Charles Alsberg cofounded North American Hydro nearly 50 years ago and, since then, has founded at least two other companies and amassed immense domestic and international experience in the hydropower sphere. His son, Rory, put in time at North American Hydro before transitioning to the specialty marine construction company J.F. Brennan. We speak to both father and son about their careers and accomplishments in hydro.

Considering how much digital technology has shaped each of our lives, it’s no surprise that digital will be a game-changer for hydro, too. The process is already afoot, and companies such as HYDROGRID aim to harness the powers of this technology to optimize hydropower facilities for the future.

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.