Methodology for Exploring Water and Hydropower Operating Criteria that Simultaneously Improve Economic and Environmental Considerations: Article No. 371

Quentin Ploussard, Thomas Veselka, Thushara De Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite the reliability and flexibility of hydropower, the operation of hydroelectric power plants may have significant impacts on the downstream river system, including its water stage, sediment transport, and water temperature, ultimately affecting the ecology. To address these challenges, there is a need to identify water scheduling patterns that improve both hydropower economics and the environment relative to current operations. This paper presents a new methodology to explore promising operational criteria/rules that can achieve such improvements. Typical environmental impact statements and relicensing processes generally perform detailed site-specific analyses of a few alternatives that focus on reservoir water release operating rules and their associated environmental impacts. In contrast, the methodology presented in this article uses a widely applicable approach that explores a much larger solution space. This large set of potential alternatives can be represented in a multidimensional space for which one axis represents the economic value and the other axis quantify individual environmental impacts (e.g., sediment transport and fish growth), and they are explored via two approaches: a Monte Carlo simulation that identifies "win-win" alternatives and a multi-objective optimization problem that identifies Pareto-optimal alternatives.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A40-89050

Keywords

  • economics
  • environment
  • hydropower
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • multi-objective optimization
  • multicriteria analysis
  • Pareto front

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