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Interview

with Alena Rybushkina, Chairman, NP Hydropower Russia

07.03.2013 / Energyboardroom

Since 2004, the NP Hydropower has been rather active through diverse initiatives by supporting R&D initiatives, enhancing the exchange of information, and so forth. In hindsight, what makes you the most proud of what has been achieved by the Partnership to date?

To date, all of our efforts and projects have been directed towards increasing the reliability and effectiveness of the sector in order to enjoy greater use of the country’s hydro potential. We target both large projects as well as more local ones, which target more current and local issues.

Looking back, there are three areas that jump out. The first is the creation of a document called the ‘Forecast of the Growth in Hydro-Electric Energy until 2020, with a Look into 2050.’ This document has been compiled by leading hydro-experts from 2007 onwards. This outline has not only been important to identify how we should use our potential and what areas require investment, but also to highlight the sector’s needs in terms of resources such as equipment and people management.

Our second key project was the creation of a system for technological regulation. Law 184 defines the rules and regulations of the sector in Russia, and is a law that the Council has been working on since its creation. Namely, one of our priority areas is the creation of standards. We have been tasked with this responsibility by RAO UES in the past and companies such as RusHydro today.

During this work we came to the conclusion that many issues have to be standardized at the industry level. Following our methodological approach, the result in 2010 was a ‘concept for technological regulation in the hydro-sector.’ The concept has been agreed upon by all the members of our partnership and later applied to the entire energy sector by the Ministry of Energy. This year, we went even further with the creation of the document “Standardization at hydropower organizations. Standards of organization. The rules of construction, description, design and notation”. With this, we took a general concept more and more specific in terms of its technical aspects. In this document, we went into much greater detail to support a harmonized approach by all the different hydro companies.

The third area of work has been the regulation of assets, resources and equipment. This includes the facilities themselves, i.e. the hydropower plants. More than twenty percent of the equipment in Russia has an operational life of more than fifty years. It is therefore very important to address issues with regards to their residual operational life. Due to partnership request the method of evaluating of the residual life of the mechanical equipment was developed. We continued our work in this area from 2010 onwards, particularly on hydro turbines. As a result, we have developed a document that includes criteria for safety for instance. All of our members already use this document now. This is an area that our Partnership alone has been working on systematically and remains a complex task due to the unique features of every hydropower plant.

The Partnership seems to be quite outward-looking, working together with entities such as the International Hydropower Association. To what extent can you also align your efforts in creating all these different documents with what has been done abroad?

We work with two main international organizations: the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA). The NP Hydropower is the official supporting organization of the ICOLD to the Russian National Committee. We thus provide support to the members of the committee and participate in all their events. In this way, the international community can hear firsthand about the situation of the hydro sector in Russia.

Our Partnership is also very interested in providing access to these international entities to all of our members and we do so by providing and translating bulletins and reports. We provide this access through our portal which we have set up in 2010. Since then, we have translated more than thirty bulletins that talk about the most current issues in the sector.

Further to that, we have been a member of the IHA since 2010 and take part in all communication platforms of the organization. Since then we have also been working on a document that deals with sustainable development – “Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol” In partnership with RusHydro we have worked on the translation of this document which is now in its test phase in some of RusHydro’s plants.

All these documents can be looked at from different perspectives by different entities in the value chain: government, consumers, producers, retailers, equipment providers, etc. Consumers, through their own association, have previously raised concern over lacking involvement in the sector. Have certain steps been taken to include them in the development of the framework and policies of the hydro sector in Russia?

This is a matter that does not only relate to specific hydro-issues, but also the development of entire regions. The large projects of RusHydro, for instance, do not look at only one investment, but at the development of an entire region, such as Siberian and Far East region. In such project, all the large consumers – such as aluminum producers – are being taken into account. The territorial approach allows us to get closer to consumers and other stakeholders.

Apart from RusHydro, you still have around 10 other members in your Partnership. This now even includes EPC companies such as Rakurs. Going forward, how do you see your membership base developing?

At the time the Partnership was created, the main idea was to include generating companies only. Afterwards, however, we understood that other stakeholders needed to be included as well, such as construction and research companies. For this reason, we have changed the statute of the Partnership in 2010 to allow for other organizations related to the hydro sector to enter too.

Looking 5 years ahead into the future, what will the NP Hydropower then look like?

A key focus area will be our membership base, as we will try to include organizations taking part in all the different stages of the lives of hydropower plants. At the same time, we also want our Partnership to become a platform to exchange ideas and build dialogues between different organizations, notwithstanding their current activities.

The ‘All Russian Hydropower’ of 2005 is an example of an event where more than 300 to 400 representatives came together to discuss their issues and find solutions together. In this event, we saw the participation of all kinds of companies of different sectors of our field. The next such event will be taking place next year.

In the coming years, we will be focusing on two key areas: creating standards and supporting research to address common issues of the sector. We aim to make all this knowledge easily available for our professionals, which is why we will also be working on an electronic library.

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