Takeaways: HydroVision 2017

HydroVision International is the largest gathering of hydro professionals worldwide. Over 3,000 hydro professionals and over 300 hydro-related product and service providers were on the exhibit floor in Denver, Colorado, with participants from 51 countries. The event highlights perspectives on the role of hydropower, explores issues affecting the hydropower industry, covers issues and concerns affecting hydro resources, publicizes current market opportunities and challenges, and facilitates development of a vision to meet challenges and to ensure sustainable development.

Alden is active in supporting the hydro industry, with physical hydraulic modeling, 3D and 2D numeric modeling, fish passage design and testing. We attend Hydrovision every year, and participate in the exhibit, as well as technical conference and training sessions.

I was able to meet with most of our dams and hydro clients and teaming partners. The attendance from the private power producers, utilities, consulting companies and equipment manufacturers were adequate but there was clearly less participation from the federal government, especially from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). I observed increased energy and optimism in developing renewable and small hydro with a hope of relaxed regulation and a faster FERC approval process. That being said, folks seemed to think the price of natural gas will remain low in the foreseeable future and the development of hydro assets may remain relatively less competitive in general. Overall, the need for hydraulic, environmental, and fisheries work appears steady, nonetheless.

The spillway failure at the Oroville Dam impacted the dam owners and hydro industry, overall. Most dam owners are concerned and are taking steps to ensure their dams are safe, irrespective of regulatory requirements. Clearly, the need for support in the area of dam safety will remain strong.

Alden's 2017 HydroVision Booth

Here a few highlights of the conference I can share:

  • The event included focused education and training classes on hydro related topics, field trips, technical sessions and an extensive exhibit floor with over 300 professional and equipment service providers 
  • As always, it was an invaluable event for meeting and networking with hydro professionals
  • There was significant emphasis on dam safety from both engineering and cyber security perspectives
  • The drone technology is slowly but surely developing, and many challenging field inspections could be done with a drone without putting a human being in harm’s way
  • Significant emphasis was on smaller hydro, from economic, social, renewable, and sustainability perspectives
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