Article Source: IMechE

Ahead of speaking at the Hydropower Engineering: Technologies, Projects and Future Developments seminar, we caught up with Arwel Williams, Lead Mechanical Turbine Engineer at First Hydro Company. Arwel explained his role and involvement in hydropower, the critical challenges, five to ten year vision and what he is looking forward to at the event.


Q: Could you briefly explain your role and involvement in hydropower?

Arwel Williams (AW): As a Lead Mechanical Engineer for a pump storage company, my responsibilities are to plan, develop and deliver a range of complex plant refurbishment, maintenance and replacement projects, and provide advice and direction to the business to develop innovative solutions to problems at both Dinorwig and Ffestiniog Power Stations. 

Q: In your experience, what is the number one challenge facing engineers specialising in hydropower?

AW: One of the main challenges within the UK is that the number of new build or major refurbishments of pump storage schemes have been extremely rare during the last 30 years. The opportunity for Engineers to gain experience of large construction or refurbishments of pump storage plant during this “quieter” period has been limited to less extensive maintenance and refurbishment projects. As a result, the age profile of experienced hydropower Engineers is extremely top heavy and in many instances these individuals are either retired or coming up to retirement. That results in UK business having to go further afield i.e. outside of the UK for support.  

Q: What is the most exciting development in this field at the moment, either within your company or in the industry in general?

AW: For First Hydro Company, the Ffestiniog Refurbishment Project is the most exciting development since Dinorwig and Ffestiniog were originally commissioned.

Q: What do you see for the future of hydropower development and engineering over the next 5–10 years?

AW: With battery technology developing at a high rate and increased wind and solar capacity, there could be a possibility that pump storage schemes shall have a market for reactive power contracts during the day and active contracts at night in direct contrast to the historical market conditions.

Q: What are you most looking forward to by presenting at the seminar?

AW: Developing relationships with engineers from similar industries and gaining a better understanding of the challenges they face and issues that they have had to overcome.

Q: Which sessions are you most looking forward to hearing?

AW: I’m looking forward to the Glenmuckloch pumped storage project session, understanding the scope of the project and how it has developed to this stage.

Q: Why should hydropower engineers join this seminar?

AW: Engineers should attend this event to gain an insight into various aspects of hydropower and understand different challenges that face the industry and the innovation required to succeed.

Find out more

Arwel will be speaking at Hydropower Engineering: Technologies, Projects and Future Developments seminar on 14 June 2018 in London. Join him and other experts from SSE Generation Development, Andritz Hydro, Voith Hydro, Buccleuch, Mott MacDonald, Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd and more.

Key programme highlights:

  • First Hydro Company and Voith Hydro discuss the Ffestiniog pump storage refurbishment and modernisation project
  • SSE Generation Development share a case study about the Coire Glas Pumped Storage scheme
  • Tidal Lagoon Power share an update on the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project
  • Tidal Electric Ltd discusses the feasibility of building an offshore tidal lagoon power plant in the Solway
  • Andritz Hydro talk about adding flywheel function to pumped storage
  • Mott MacDonald share insights on the future of hydropower

For further information, visit the Hydropower Engineering: Technologies, Projects and Future Developments event page.

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