R&D Forum

NWHA to conduct hydro potential scoping study

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council has contracted the Northwest Hydroelectric Association to conduct a scoping study on the hydropower potential in the Pacific Northwest. The study was scheduled to be complete by the end of September.

This study will review all the numerous recent regional and national assessments identifying significant hydropower potential, with an emphasis on the potential in upgrading existing facilities. The study will factor in environmental impacts (including protected areas) and cost-effectiveness.

The council’s last major assessment of hydropower potential in the region was undertaken as part of its Fourth Power Plan, released in 1998.

The council and its Generating Resources Advisory Committee planned to review the study results in October and November and recommend next steps.

Study leads to increase in water releases from Lake Powell

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation will increase its water releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead in Water Year 2015, following the recent completion of a monthly operational study.

The release will increase from 7.48 million acre-fee (maf) in Water Year 2014 to 8.23 maf in the coming year, with Lake Mead operating under normal conditions in Calendar Year 2015. Water users in the Lower Colorado River Basin and Mexico will also receive their full water orders.

The projections are used in accordance with the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead to determine the amount of water released each year.

The 2007 Interim Guidelines allow water managers to plan for varying reservoir levels along the Colorado River with a “greater degree of certainty about annual water deliveries,” Reclamation said. The guidelines also “define the reservoir levels that would trigger delivery shortages and specify reduced delivery amounts in the Lower Colorado River Basin.”

Lake Mead — impounded by Hoover Dam — http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/07/reservoir-behind-hoover-dam-dips-to-historic-low.html dipped to its lowest levels since the 1930s in July after Reclamation forecast lower water releases into the lake http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2013/08/reclamation-forecasts-lower-water-release-to-lake-mead-in-2014.html in August 2013 due to what is being called a 15-year drought. The 2007 Interim Guidelines dictate Reclamation will again review conditions at Lake Powell and Lake Mead in April 2015, at which point the releases from Powell could be increased to 9.0 maf for Water Year 2015. Reclamation’s long-term hydrologic models show the first chance for reduced water deliveries into the Lower Basin are in 2016.

Researchers develop method to detect oil in water

Scientists with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi have developed a new method for detecting oil degradation in water long after the spill has disappeared from the surface. This method provides another tool for researchers studying long-term environmental impacts, the researchers say.

Under normal circumstances, marine microbes release CO2 as they feed on oxygen from decomposing phytoplankton. This produces a known ratio of CO2 production and oxygen consumption. That ratio changes when microbes consume plankton, meaning “We can tell if microbes are using oxygen from plankton-derived carbon or from the carbon in petroleum,” said Xinping Hu, assistant professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Hu and his team looked at subsurface Gulf of Mexico coastal waters and focused on comparing water samples near the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizons oil spill.

This research was funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fraunhofer model to help fine-tune Columbia Basin hydro

Fraunhofer Institute of Germany said it has created a simulation and optimization model to help Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) fine-tune operations of the 22,000-MW Columbia River hydropower system in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (IOSB) of Ilmenau, Germany, is developing information technology to make waterpower generating systems more efficient. Its Advanced System Technology department is creating simulation and optimization models that consolidate external factors such as weather data, water levels and market prices with system infrastructure. The models help generate optimized plans for operational facilities, such as the opening and closing of sluice gates, reservoir water level regulation and hydro turbine operation.

IOSB and Dutch-American company Deltares are working on the HyPROM project to develop a functioning simulation and optimization model to ensure best possible operation of the BPA hydroelectric system based on pre-defined parameters.

Divas Karimanzira of the IOSB project team said parameters affecting hydropower include rainfall levels, volume and speed of water, general climate factors and regulation for protection of fish, flood control or environmental guidelines. “Hydroelectric plants can be operated optimally only when you take all the variables into account,” Karimanzira said. “HyPROM takes on the complexity of the extensively networked Columbia River Basin dam system. It covers two different rivers with an average water flow of 7,500 cubic meters per second, 10 hydro plants, 10 reservoirs and an altitude difference of 350 meters.”

Researchers are expanding the model to better encompass energy-economic aspects including fluctuating availability of wind and solar energy and randomly changing market prices. The goal is to enable BPA to adjust its control and management system in under an hour.

Studarus: Graduating fellow of the Hydro Research Foundation

Editor’s Note: This series profiles Hydro Research Foundation fellows, who are potential future members of the hydroelectric power industry, and their accomplishments.

Karen Studarus graduated this summer from the University of Washington with a PhD in power systems analysis. As a Seattle resident, Studarus enjoys diverse benefits from the Federal Columbia River Power System; self-interest, therefore, bolsters her professional curiosity about the competing constraints and objectives that form the short-term hydropower scheduling problem.

Studarus earned her B.S. in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College in California in 2003. At the University of Washington, she discovered her enthusiasm for one application of those techniques: integration of stochastic renewables with the electric power system. She shifted focus to power system economics and operations and joined Professor Rich Christie’s Wind Integration Research Lab, where she pursued her PhD in power systems analysis.

Studarus’ research focused on Understanding Operational Flexibility in the Federal Columbia River Power System. The work seeks to bridge the gap between academic hydro scheduling formulations and the practical realities of balancing a power system in real time in the face of uncertainty. Initial results will be specific to the inputs supplied by our partners at BPA, but the open source tools created to perform the analysis will be able to answer the same questions for an arbitrary hydro system’s parameters and historical time series.

HRF supports graduate students to conduct research related to conventional and pumped storage hydropower. These students are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Program and industry partners through a five year US$3.7 million dollar grant. To learn more about the program, visit www.hydrofoundation.org.

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