Modeling Electricity Sector Vulnerabilities and Costs Associated with Water Temperatures Under Scenarios of Climate Change
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:05 AM
The reliability of the power sector is highly vulnerable to variability in the availability and temperature of water resources, including those that might result from potential climatic changes or from competition from other users. In the past decade, power plants throughout the United States have had to shut down or curtail generation due to a lack of available water or from elevated water temperatures. These disruptions in power plant performance can have negative impacts on energy security and can be costly to address. Analysis of water-related vulnerabilities requires modeling capabilities with high spatial and temporal resolution. This research provides an innovative approach to energy-water modeling by evaluating the costs and reliability of a power sector region under policy and climate change scenarios that affect water resource availability and temperatures. This work utilizes results from a spatially distributed river water temperature model coupled with a thermoelectric power plant model to provide inputs into an electricity production cost model that operates on a high spatial and temporal resolution. The regional transmission organization ISO-New England, which includes six New England states and over 32 Gigawatts of power capacity, is utilized as a case study. Hydrological data and power plant operations are analyzed over an eleven year period from 2000-2010 under four scenarios that include climate impacts on water resources and air temperatures as well as strict interpretations of regulations that can affect power plant operations due to elevated water temperatures. Results of these model linkages show how the power sector’s reliability and economic performance can be affected by changes in water temperatures and water availability. The effective reliability and capacity value of thermal electric generators are quantified and discussed in the context of current as well as potential future water resource characteristics.