As Hydropower Moves to Small Dams, Big Dams use Risk Analysis Solutions to Meet Energy Conservation Goals

When alternative energy sources are discussed, hydroelectricity typically isn’t mentioned before solar, wind, or biofuel. Hydroelectricity, which generates power through dams and river currents, is a power source more associated with the first half of the 20th century. That said, there are still areas that rely heavily on hydroelectricity, such as British Columbia, Canada. BC Hydro, which utilizes @RISK to develop energy conservation strategies, supplies 90 percent of the province’s electricity.  
 
In a recent Risk & Insurance article by Gregory DL Morris, the future of hydroelectricity was considered, highlighting BC Hydro’s transition away from large traditional dams to smaller, “run-of-river” dams. Larger dams are often less efficient and more expensive to maintain, as pointed out by Basil Stumborg, a decision analysis expert at BC Hydro. In the article, Stumborg mentioned that @RISK is utilized in the effort to calculate risk factors in aging dams, which assists in the development of energy conservation strategies: 
 
"There is a huge incentive for utilities such as BC Hydro to encourage energy conservation. But while the motivation is there, it is often difficult to know whether these ambitious targets can be achieved. We have been using Palisade's risk analysis software @RISK to communicate complex analyses, and have been able to set very aggressive energy conservation goals.”
 
"From a risk-management point of view, we have found we can build risky things into your plan, but you have to know what your red flags are, and when to use your off ramps," he said.
 
As hydroelectricity scales down to smaller, more efficient dams, it is exciting to see @RISK playing a part in making BC Hydro’s traditional dams more energy efficient.
 
 

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