Electrical Power and Energy Conference 2009
"Sustainable/ Renewable Energy Systems and Technologies"

October 22 - 23,  2009  Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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Panel Session F3.2
Hydro Power and Storage Technology

Room:         Ballroom
Time:          14:00, Friday, Oct. 23, 2009
Chair:          Prof. Dr. Stan Pejovic, University of Toronto
Co-Chair:    John Douglas, founder, President and CEO of Riverbank Power Corp.: project Aquabank™ 1000 MW.


1.  Title:          New Initiatives Relating to Energy at University of Toronto
     Speaker:    Dr. Bryan Karney, Associate Dean, Cross-Disciplinary Programs

2.  Title:          Life Cycle Inventory of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Hydropower Projects
     Speaker:    Dr. Katherine Qinfen Zhang

3.  Title:          An Assessment of Electricity System Reliability in an Evolving World
     Speaker:    C. B. Codd, University of Toronto

4.  Title a :      Hydro Review Boards – An important component for a successful development
     Title b:       Parametric Analysis of Pump-turbine Sites
     Speaker:    James L. Gordon.

5.  Title:          Cavitation (damage) Strips with Span-wise Regularity Identified from Three Gorges Turbines
     Speaker:    Dr. S. C. Li, Warwick University, UK

6.  Title:          On-Line Management, Control and Optimization of Electricity Generation
     Speaker:    Stan Pejovic, University of Toronto

The Panel Session Focus:
•           Science, research & development.
•           Engineering know-how has dwindled.
•           Teams and expertise have to be built up again.
•           Electrical energy crisis.
•           After some decades, the pumped storage is getting renewed attention.
•           Tentative conclusions and recommendations.

An introductory note was given by Dr. Bryan Karney, Associate Dean, Cross-Disciplinary Programs, regarding the new initiatives relating to energy at University of Toronto. UofT is introducing courses: “Design of Hydroelectric Plants” for the first time in North America. The organized transfer of experience and knowledge has failed. The financial support is not yet there. Universities, electricity sector and governments are invited to support this extremely important action so as to ensure the continuity of expertise in this domain.

The Co-chair's Opening Remarks at the Session:

Pumped storage and hydroelectric storage are becoming very important in today’s climate, even US President Barack Obama and US Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu support and understand their importance

After decades of little or no development, hydro pumped storage is seeing renewed attention. In the past two years, the US has approved 21 preliminary permits for pumped-storage projects totaling more than 12,000 MW. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said hydro pumped storage must be a part of a national plan to expand clean-energy resources and integrate variable renewable energy resources into the transmission grid.

Sources say the Ontario Power Authority is also looking seriously at hydroelectric pumped storage projects that could store energy from wind and solar farms and dispatch the power as needed.

We are developing underground pumped storage power plants capable of generating up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity with a head of 600 m (2000 ft).  Thirty years of history for similar pumped storage plants shows plants running "smoothly with minor troubles", although there have been a number of plants which had serious problems that have arisen which have been successfully resolved. 

Much of the important experience and knowledge accumulated in the last century are not yet published in books, standards, guidelines and recommendations. Young experts therefore have nowhere to read and learn about the safety of electric plants. The University of Toronto has offered a course in the Design of Hydro and Wind Electric Plants, which, it would appear, is the first time that the Design of Hydroelectric Plants is presented to the students in North America.

I would like to point out the loss of experience.

  1. Organizing multidisciplinary transfer of experience is a priority task to be undertaken by universities and the electricity sector.
  2. Action should be undertaken for all projects, including short‐changing, to design and review new and existing hydropower projects.



1.  Title:          New Initiatives Relating to Energy at University of Toronto
     Speaker:    Dr. Bryan Karney, Associate Dean, Cross-Disciplinary Programs
(For the presentation file click here.)

Abstract: Over the last couple of years several new energy intensive programs have been created at University of Toronto.  The two primary ones related are a specialized major, with a high electrical content, in Engineering Science specifically focused on Energy Systems. For a variety of strategic reasons, the electrical generation and transmission system was taken as the core of this program, but considerable depth is also achieved in a wide range of chemical, civil and mechanical energy conversion topics.  This program features both conventional and alternative energy sources and extends to energy use and demand.  The second enrichment option is a new minor sustainable energy available to all regular undergraduate engineering students and has already had almost 200 students sign up to complete this program.   The basic design, vision and tradeoffs associated with creating these two programs will be over-viewed and critiqued in this presentation on the basis of the first two years of delivery experience.

Speaker’s Bio: Bryan W Karney is a Professor of Civil Engineer and Chair of the Division of Environmental Engineering and Energy Systems at the University of Toronto, where he has worked since 1987. Dr Karney has spoken and written widely on subjects related to water resource systems, energy issues, hydrology, climate change, engineering education and ethics. He was Associate Editor for the ASCE’s Journal of Hydraulic Engineering from 1993 to 2005 and has been a principal of Hydratek and Associates since 1988.


2.  Title:          Life Cycle Inventory of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Hydropower Projects
     Speaker:    Dr. Katherine Qinfen Zhang
(For the presentation file click here.)

Abstract: Minimizing environmental impacts is one of the most significant technical and political challenges facing the energy sector today, particularly when making investment decisions. Hydroelectric systems although utilizing renewable flowing water and thus resulting in little air pollution during their operation, have also fallen under considerable scrutiny, particularly due to hydrological and ecological concerns associated with water impoundments and dams. Of course, no power development is without significant environmental costs. Thus, a pressing issue is whether hydropower is an environmentally responsible, sustainable or green energy alternative.  Moreover, does this environmental designation depend on the scale of the project?  With these and other concerns, more effort is needed to evaluate the sustainability of all energy generation options, not only using profit and financial considerations, but also using quantitative environmental assessment tools based on multi-disciplinary insights and a broad professional knowledge.  In this presentation, two different sized hydropower projects in China, one with a capacity of 44 MW and the other of 3600 MW, were examined through life cycle assessment (LCA) from the perspective of both sustainability and environmental impact and the influence of project scale.  Using the economic input-output based LCA approach, energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were quantified.  The resulting Energy Payback Ratios were found to be 7 and 48 while the normalized GHG emissions were 44 and 6 g CO2 equivalent per kWh of electricity production, both in favour of the larger project. Compared with published data on other renewable and non-renewable options, temperate hydropower, particularly large hydropower, is indicated as an efficient electrical source with relatively low GHG emissions.

Speaker’s Bio: Dr. Qinfen Zhang, P.Eng., Director of Technology, Riverbank Power Corp. has been working in hydropower and hydraulic engineering both in China and in Canada for more than 15 years. Specialized in transient analysis and hydraulic design, and published a number of research papers in relevant areas.


3.  Title:          An Assessment of Electricity System Reliability in an Evolving World
     Speaker:    C. B. Codd, University of Toronto, Co-author B. W. Karney, U of T

(For the presentation file click here.)

Abstract: The electricity industry has undergone major changes in the last fifteen years – particularly the adoption of electricity markets in place of vertically-integrated public utilities and the move towards environmentally-sustainable forms of renewable generation.  Patterns of demand are expected to change due to the adoption of new technologies such as plug-in electric vehicles.  New information system technologies will allow more dynamic operation of the electricity.  Electricity system reliability standards and policy have only begun to be reviewed with respect to these transformations.  Further studies are needed to consider the tradeoffs between the costs of maintaining current reliability standards and policies and the ever-changing needs of an evolving electricity system.  In particular, we discuss the benefits of pumped-storage hydroelectric systems in mitigating or alleviating some of the most recent reliability issues to arise.  These comments are made specifically in the context of Ontario, but certainly apply in a variety ways to other jurisdictions.

Speakers’ Bio: Chris Codd is a recent graduate of the Engineering Science Program at the University of Toronto where he studied a wide range of engineering topics, including hydroelectric dams, fuel cells, energy policy and investment.  Since graduation, he has worked at one of Ontario's utility companies on a variety of energy related projects. He continues to work with the University of Toronto on energy projects.


4.  Title a :      Hydro Review Boards – An important component for a successful development
(For the presentation file click here.)

Abstract – The use of Review Boards on large hydro projects is now a common practice. They provide some assurance that the project layout and design is the optimum for the site. However, some developers are not aware of how Review Boards should be used, and the opportunities provided by the presence of the Board, to enhance the local engineering experience of both the developer and the consultant. Review Boards are rarely used on smaller hydro projects, primarily due to cost. However, a strong case can be made for Review Boards on smaller projects. This paper addresses several issues arising from the use of Review Boards, including liability, meeting organization and reporting.

4.  Title b:       Parametric Analysis of Pump-turbine Sites
     Speaker:    James L. Gordon.
(For the presentation file click here.)

Abstract: Although no new pump-turbine developments have been built on the North American continent since the Rocky Mountain 850MW facility was commissioned in 1995 (1), there is a renewed interest in their development, driven by the need to firm up energy derived from wind, run-of-river small hydro and coal developments as at North Eden, where a 700MW facility is planned (8). Currently, many developers are searching for sites, and recently 25 permits for 29,444MW of pump-storage have been issued in the USA (9). Designs have been developed for sites with underground storage, and others are investigating sites with relatively low head and long conduits. Such sites are likely to be uneconomic at current market prices for off-peak and on-peak energy. The HydroHelp 5 computer program has been developed to design and cost pump-turbine projects, and three examples of site costing are included, for Lake Uist in Nova Scotia, for Saguenay Fjord in Quebec, and for a theoretical site with a deep underground reservoir. To assist in the assessment task, a set of guidelines is desirable, to determine what site parameters have to be within such limits as - minimum head; maximum length of the water passages; minimum capacity and storage conditions; based on a given differential in energy costs, in order for the site to be economic. Using the computer program HydroHelp 5, a set of conditions has been developed for a variety of energy cost differentials using a fixed interest rate of 5%. Prospective developers can use the same program to develop their own particular set of conditions.

Speaker’s Bio: Jim Gordon has over 50 years of experience in the hydro industry, mainly on project design. He has worked on the design of over 45 hydro projects, has authored or co-authored 90 papers and has been an invited speaker at 25 conferences. He is now practicing as a private consultant.


5.  Title:          Cavitation (damage) Strips with Span-wise Regularity Identified from Three Gorges Turbines
     Speaker:    Dr. S. C. Li, Warwick University, UK
(For the presentation file click here.)

Abstract: The Francis turbines (710 MW) of the Three Gorges Project are the world largest developed by world leading manufactures (Alstom, GE and Voith-Siemens), reflecting cutting-edge technologies. However, an unusual pattern of damage neither identified nor reported before has been identified by the author, which has very unusual appearance, puzzling professionals. The author suggests that it is a new type of cavitation.

The fact that this cavitation occurs on all prototype turbines but no cavitation was detected during model tests has raised a fundamental question to the turbine similarity-laws currently employed. Through fluid dynamic and metallurgical analysis, it is here revealed that this cavitation is triggered by the boundary-layer turbulent production; and the damaged (roughened) spot in turn trigger subsequent cavitation (damage) immediately down stream. This forms a sustainable dynamic process, resulting in delicate, long and equal-width stream-wise damage-strips with span-wise regularities reflecting the span-wise stochastic characteristics of boundary-layer turbulent production. Owing to the heat effect of cavitation, inter-granular corrosion takes place through sensitization process, leaving damage surface a corrosion appearance.

The author has further pointed out that extremely large turbines like these and even larger ones such as the 1000 MW giant ones being developed in China are much more susceptible to this type of cavitation (damage) owing to the scale-effect.

The highly multi-disciplinary nature of this phenomenon presents a grand challenge to fundamental sciences as well as to development of modern giant turbines.

In the talk, the author explained in detail:
1.         The phenomenon discovered.
2.         The metallurgical and fluid dynamic factors underlying these features observed.
3.         The reasons why all these world class manufacturers failed to identify/predict these problems in their model test and CFD studies.
4.         The future tasks.


6.  Title:          On-Line Management, Control and Optimization of Electricity Generation
     Speaker:    Dr. Stan Pejovic, University of Toronto
(For the presentation file click here.)

Abstract: Management and control computer programs increase profit and instruct technical and management staff how to select the most profitable operating points of power plants. Selecting the best mode of operation allows the energy system to have the highest efficiency and/or the lowest operating costs. Vibrations could be easily measured with an acquisition system. The amplitude of bearing vibrations increases in time. The distance of the measured point from the previously measured amplitude characteristics is proportional to the real operation time and the corresponding exposure rate. Time intervals of operation between maintenance and/or replacement of unit components could be estimated. Statistical data on a particular unit and power plant improve analysis results, reducing costs of operation, and maintenance. The exposure rate, as a correlation between the real and reference operation times, is the most important statistical characteristic of a unit. By selecting the best exposure rates, the profitability and reliability of power plants and related subsystems can be increased. Optimizing an energy system increases both profitability and electricity most important statistical characteristic of a unit. By selecting the best exposure rates, the profitability and reliability of power plants and related subsystems can be increased. Optimizing an energy system increases both profitability and electricity production.

Speaker’s Bio: Stanislav Pejovic was a full professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Belgrade, a visiting professor at the University of Singapore, Hong Kong, Sarajevo, Skoplje, Nis, to name a few. He is presently teaching at the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. He has taught subjects related to energy, thermodynamics, physics, fluid mechanics, power plants, hydraulic transients, vibrations, stability, and resonance. He specializes in design, construction, commissioning, maintenance, troubleshooting and review of electric plants, hydraulic systems, pumps, turbines, and complex systems of thermal and nuclear plants. He is the author of several books. He also worked as a design and consulting engineer at “Energoprojekt” company in Belgrade. Dr Pejovic is a licensed Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Panel Session: Hydro Power and Storage Technology
IEEE Canada Electric Power and Energy Conference (EPEC) 2009
October 22 - 23, 2009. Montreal, Quebec, Canada



These Conclusions and Recommendations are based on previously published articles, papers presented at this Conference and Electrical Power Conference (EPC) 2007, and the EPC 2007 HydroPanel Session Chair's Report, available at

Comments on this text and suggestions should be directed to Dr. Stan Pejovic, Panel Session Chair (e-mail: pejovics@asme.org).



30-Year Gap

An increase in worldwide electricity demand requires additional production and supply of many different energy sources. In all parts of the World, especially in regions where the terrain is adequate, particular emphasis has been placed on current and future use of hydropower due to its consistent ‘green’ source of energy.
There is currently resurgence in the construction of hydro power facilities in Ontario, Canada and worldwide. This construction activity is straining the resources of hydro consultants, to the extent that many are understaffed and their engineers are overworked. Furthermore, there is a paucity of senior hydro engineers due to the lack of hydro activity in the last thirty years, when few hydro plants were built. During this period, many hydro engineers either retired or sought employment in other fields. Consequently, a risk of design and construction mistakes made due to a lack of knowledge at utilities and among consultants increased significantly.

Renewables and Storage

Hydro storages and pumped-storages are of paramount importance as the most reliable and cheapest storages of clean renewable energy – wind and solar. However, such energy sources require a large investment of capital and knowledge of hydropower technology but still are sources of cheapest electricity.  Design, construction and operation of hydroelectric projects requires tens of thousands of details to be accurate, well conceived and executed, and carefully coordinated for a project to achieve safe and economical operation that can be judged a social, technological, and environmental success.

Loss of Experience

But with current wardens of hydropower projects having over 50 years of knowledge approaching their retirement age, there are concerns that knowledge exchange to the new hydropower generation appears to be on the verge of collapsing.  At the same time, there are inexperienced manufacturers, engineers and “experts” that are attempting to design and operate hydroelectric projects and taking short cuts in the design process.  These design errors often result in large-scale problems that can endanger the project’s long-term feasibility.  But while the experienced wardens of the hydropower technology are appointed as consultants to troubleshoot problematic hydroelectric projects, owners and manufacturers are reluctant to publish the design faults and corresponding retrofits in fear of the negative publicity. As a result, hydropower technology knowledge is ultimately retained by these wardens and lessons learned from past experience are not transferred to the new generation of hydroelectric engineers and experts.  So unless specific action is taken to preserve and improve knowledge transfer pertaining to design, construction and operation of hydroelectric projects, the current and future state of Canadian and worldwide hydroelectric projects will be in jeopardy.  Survey discussed in 2007 at IEEE Panel and Oral sections has come to the conclusion that more than 50% of hydro plants have troubles in operation.

Design and Reviews

Over the past decade, there have been several instances where the performance of new hydro developments has been compromised by unsatisfactory operation of some components associated with the hydraulic design of the facilities. Very few articles outline the types of deficiencies encountered, and suggest some remedies.
At each stage, all project documentation should be reviewed by independent reviewers selected and nominated by official authorities. Reducing the amount of analysis, without justification, or worse yet, neglecting the design procedures puts the project at risk.

Storage & Pumped Storage in Conjunction with Nuclear, Coal, Wind, and Solar Energy

Storage and reversible pumped-turbine storage electric plants are a better solution than any other system to meet peak energy demand: they respond faster and are the only ones producing or taking advantage of clean energy. Furthermore, they typically have a long service life (sometimes up to a hundred years or more) and they are very efficient.
In Ontario and some countries which do not have plants with large reservoirs, reversible pump-turbine storage electric plants reduce production costs for the system. Apart from one small low-head installation at Niagara Falls built in 1957, the Province of Ontario does not have reversible plants that could accumulate low-cost energy (deriving from wind and solar sources or when thermal plants operate below the technical minimum) by pumping water into storage reservoirs when there is a surplus of generating capacity and then releasing it when needed back through the pump-turbine assembly, which would operate in turbine mode.
Two thermal power plants (nuclear and/or fossil fueled) could be exchanged with one thermal and one pump storage facility which transfers the (nightly) energy surplus delivered by the thermal plant into its water storage reservoir. When consumers need more (daytime) peak energy, both the thermal and pump-storage plants would furnish the required electricity. Therefore, the inconvenience of nuclear plant downtime could be reduced substantially.

Main Conclusions

  1. More than 50% hydroelectric plants have trouble in operation.
  2. Continuity of knowledge and experience is being lost.
  3. The use of review boards on large hydro projects is now a (common) practice for some projects in some countries.
  4. Review boards are rarely used on smaller hydro projects, primarily due to cost.
  5. Action should be undertaken all projects, including short-altering, correctly to be designed and reviewed.
  6. Taking short cuts can lead – and indeed has often led – to large scale problems.
  7. Hydro reservoir storages and pumped-storages provide the lowest cost of storing clean renewable energy – wind and solar.
  8. Nuclear and fossil-fueled plants could be combined with pump-storage plants to reduce pollution.



  1. Pumped storage should be used to improve power system efficiency, stability, and susceptibility to blackouts.
  2. Organized multidisciplinary transfer of experience is a priority task for universities and the electricity sector.
  3. Any hydroelectric installation, large, or small, as a rule, should be designed in several well defined stages.
  4. At each stage, the project design should be reviewed by independent reviewers.
  5. The points 3-4 should apply especially to reviews of smaller projects.


Appendix A

Papers Presented at the EPEC 2009 Related to This Session

  1. Gordon J. L., “Parametric Analysis of Pump-turbine Sites”
  2. Gordon J. L., “Hydro Review Boards – An important component for a successful development”
  3. Maricic T., Haber D., Pejovic S., “Niagara Pump Generating Station Proven Functionality Unique in Canada”
  4. Maricic T., Karney W. B., Pejovic S., “Essential Role of Technical Review in Hydro-Designs”
  5. Nowicki P., Sallaberger M., P. Bachman P., “Modern Design of Pump-Turbines”
  6. Pejovic S., Karney B., Maricic T., “Smart Grids Better with Integrated Energy System”



F3.2 Hydro Panel Session EPEC2009
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