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On the future of hydropower engineering

The 2nd conference on Hydropower in Poland, “Today and tomorrow of Hydropower in Poland and European Union” during the second edition of International Trade Fair for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency RENEXPO Poland, 17-18 October 2012, Expocentre EXPO XXI in Warsaw.

Water has always played an important part in people’s lives, deciding on the formation of population centers, originating cities and countries. Without water, life on earth would not exist and everybody agrees that it is, and will be, the driving force behind the development of civilization. It gained even more importance with the discovery of its particular feature - energy factor.

The use of water as energy source has a long tradition. First hydropower plants already started to be built at the turn of the century also in Poland. And although Poland, due to its low lying area and small ground slope, does not have optimal conditions for the development in this field, it is water that is currently in the first place among all the alternative sources of energy in terms of electricity production.

And it is this very moment, as well as the directions of hydropower development in Poland and EU, that one of the conferences during RENEXPO Poland will be devoted to. Event organizers: Polish Hydropower Association, Institute of Fluid-Flow Machinery PAS (IMP PAN) and REECO Poland Ltd, in cooperation with Association for Small Hydropower Development, will look into the hot issues in the Polish and European hydropower sector.

The conference will analyze the current state, as well as development trends in hydropower engineering in the light of legal, administrative, economic, technical and environmental conditions. It will discuss the prospects and opportunities of the industry, and also the risks and current problems. Additionally, there will be a presentation of research and development for hydropower, and the report on gained experiences relating to design, construction and operation of hydroelectric power plants. Conference participants will learn about best practices, lessons learned from failures, as well as new technologies. They will also have a chance to participate in panel discussion concerning the following subject: “Does hydropower engineering has a future in Poland?”

RENEXPO Poland supports the development of the idea to use water supplies as energy source in Poland. By co-organizing for the second time, in parallel with the trade fair, the conference devoted to this important energy economy sector, REECO Poland Ltd is guided by the desire to create a platform for information and experience exchange. Inviting the most important figures in the industry, representatives of R & D institutions and companies working in the field of hydropower, as well as all persons engaged in hydropower engineering, REECO wants to contribute to the transfer of knowledge among these entities. Thus, it hopes to contribute to increase the use of hydropower potential in our country.

According to experts’ research, hydropower resources in Poland are much larger, and currently we use only 12% of them. Such result is quite poor when compared to countries, such as Germany, which use 80% of their potential, or France and Norway which use almost 100% of their hydropower potential.

We currently have 12 large hydro-electric power stations (>10MW) whose total capacity amounts to 2040 MW. Additionally, there are 280 MW of installed capacity in power stations with the capacity up to 10 MW. This is not enough. It is a pity, as the advantages of building hydropower plants definitely outweigh the disadvantages. Water energy is relatively cheap, harmless to the environment and helps to increase the energy independence of the countries that make proper use of it.

Fortunately, there is hope that the degree to which water resources in our country are used, will gradually rise. For Poland intends to increase the share of energy from renewable sources in the energy balance in the next decade, i.a. by investing in small hydropower plants. The most important, however, is the belief that this branch of power engineering has a future. If, in the above mentioned panel discussion, the majority of the conference participants during RENEXPO Poland answer yes to the raised question and are ready to act together - this will be the sign that hydropower in Poland indeed has a chance of effective and so much anticipated development. During the Trade Fair, leading companies will present technical innovations from hydropower engineering sector.