1. Typical benefits for Industry in standardization participation
- Standards are a useful tool to reduce and optimize costs;
- Allow greater market acceptance and maximize revenues increasing inter-business interoperability;
- Allow business to expand potential markets both domestically and internationally;
- Increasing level of innovation while lowering economic cost of research and development;
- Useful tool to utilize risk management, reducing risk with suppliers and products;
- Can positively impact public perception of company and consumer confidence in products;
- Eliminate dependence on a single supplier, improves buying power through market competition;
- Can provide early access to insider competitive benefits and quickly adapt to regulatory changes;
- Gain competitive advantage by exerting an influence on the content of a standard;
- Standards referenced in legislation provide a cost-effective method of regulatory compliance;
- A valuable tool for a business to help protect health and safety of its employees.
2. TC 4 business environment
The world production of electricity is expected to double over the next twenty-four (24) years as per International Energy Outlook 2004. Of this, renewable energy production is expected to increase by 57 percent over the same laps of time, at a growth rate that already corresponds to the evolution of statistics on new hydroelectric installations between 2002 and 2004.
Except for Canada, where more than 2000 MW of new hydroelectric projects were under construction in 2004, most of the new hydroelectric plants capacity will result from new large-scale projects in Asia, Russian Federation and South America.
Indeed, in North America and Europe, most of the hydraulic machinery sector has been driven by unit refurbishment and up-rating, new hydro developments having been restricted by extensive and complex regulatory procedures. The technical excellence of new standards is also essential to this replacement and upgrading market.
Considering the long-term investment in hydroelectricity, new or rehabilitated projects are always seeking utmost performances and durability.
If this excellence resists the many reorganizations of our industry, the future for hydropower looks even brighter than a few years ago.
The importance of hydroelectricity as a favored development factor was stressed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (September 2002) and at the Third World Water Forum in Kyoto (March 2003).
During the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn (June 2004) Ministers and Representatives from 154 countries identified hydropower as one of the renewable energies “to be substantially increased with a sense of urgency”.
The World Bank itself recently stated that “the Bank must-re-engage, as a matter of moral principle, with issues of water resources development in the developing world”.
A few years ago, the manufacturing capabilities exceeded largely the world demand for new equipment and major overhauls. Downsizing and amalgamation of firms, producers, consulting engineers and suppliers has occurred and is still under way.
Reduction of staff has sometimes been drastic, mostly without sound consideration to the real engineering demand created by special up-rating requirements or considerable efforts associated to the development of very large size units. Thanks to the extensive use of numerical simulations, the performance of hydraulic machinery has never been so remarkable, but with corresponding changes and fast track realizations come occasional design and commissioning problems. If continuing amalgamation of firms is to result in even more reduction in the availability of highly qualified specialists, the current shortage of high-level expertise will be aggravated.
New engineering staff, whose number will have to grow again in front of the variety and importance of expected engineering challenges, must rely upon up‑to‑date standards and technical reports.
Their participation in the activities of the IEC TC4 should also be a priority. Unfortunately, the chronic overload of most of them, that appears to be worse than the same overload of their predecessors, is a permanent obstacle to their true participation in Working Groups.
3. Market demand
TC 4 standards on model and site tests are already widely used by all parties, manufacturers, consultants, research laboratories and end users.
Considerable emphasis has been given to performance with both very large size units and excellence in up‑rating activities. In the case of large-scale projects, even minor performance improvements are worth considerable development and testing. For up‑ratings, most of the investment is justified by performance improvements alone and these improvements must be predicted and verified with accuracy.
The effectiveness of incentives for performance achievement is directly related to the accuracy of performance measurement. Standards must incorporate the newly available measuring tools immediately after these tools have been carefully validated and their applicable range clearly defined.
Also performance prediction must incorporate the real condition of the hydraulic machinery from the best manufacturing techniques already available for new runners to the real and sometimes very deteriorated condition of existing components. The inter-relation of both types of hydraulic condition remains, for the moment, complex and requires considerable effort by experts. Decisions and contractual relationship between plant operators, engineers and suppliers will be considerably simplified when measurements methods and step-up formulae with prototype surface condition will have been validated.
Standards on cavitation evaluation have no equivalent and are widely applied, with different degrees of severity. Cavitation reduction has made giant steps with new design methods, and numerically controlled manufacturing tools. Limits for cavitation erosion have been adapted to new capabilities but particle erosion is not covered by any standard. Particle erosion remains an obstacle to productivity in certain regions of Asia and South America, where most of the new developments are located. New standards will have to deal with erosion rates, hard coating effectiveness (with possible consequent efficiency drop), erosion guarantee evaluation and unit availability.
Vibration and stability problems remain a real concern to plant operators of Francis and pump turbines, both for up‑ratings and new units. ISO/IEC Standards should reflect these concerns.
Standards have been updated for speed control systems specification and testing. Unit and plant control systems face rapid and constant evolution, both on the hardware side and in communication protocols.
Although the contractual arrangements may differ in small units (water to wire), the qualities of large units, good performance, stability and minimal cavitation erosion are all expected from them. Special standards have been and are being prepared to provide comprehensive rules for smaller utilities and new developers that are not equipped for the methods used with larger units.
In the above context, work on improvement of the step-up formulae in IEC 60193, the evaluation of new discharge measurement methods to be included in IEC 60041 and the preparation of IEC 62006 “Acceptance Tests for Small Hydroelectric Installations” is all urgent. The new Working Group #29 on particle erosion is creating high expectations.
4. Trends in technology and trade
Considerable emphasis is now given to machines offering excellent performance (efficiency, cavitation, stability) over a wide range of specific hydraulic energy and discharge. Erosion resistance is also a growing concern in many countries. Designs of the new generation were born from the new requirements and increased capacity of numerical tools for Computational Fluid Dynamics. These are sufficiently unconventional to justify that particular attention be paid to their application. Design and manufacturing requirements might have to become more stringent.
At the same time, manufacturing is being dispersed and relocated, sometimes far away from expertise centers. Subcontractors with no particular expertise are being used, sometimes for some parts of the design itself. Traditional specialized suppliers, formerly involved in the turbine technology, are being replaced by new-comers. Good standards and guides will alleviate some of the problems, which this combination of new technological needs and dispersion of expertise creates.
5. Ecological environment
Hydroelectric energy is clean energy and is again being recognized as such. Naturally, the new developments must correspond to population priorities. Careful environmental studies generally place hydroelectric projects as one of the best compromises between a massive energy demand and minimal impacts. Both large and small projects, with careful consideration of environmental constraints, are now receiving a better public acceptance than was known a decade ago. Indeed, both are a very valuable contribution to the reduction of greenhouse effect.
Environmental studies and mitigation measures regarding population relocation and participation, fish friendly installations, flood and sediment control are now carefully analyzed, in both rehabilitation works and new projects. All these efforts are leading to an improved perception by a better informed public regarding some large scale hydroelectric projects and are creating increased confidence in future projects.
Economically feasible hydroelectric resources remain significant (undeveloped capacity) as compared to the hydropower under construction in active regions, mainly Asia and South America. Africa has also considerable resources to be developed. For all these regions, hydroelectricity is viewed as an excellent development opportunity.