Citizen Hydrology and Compressed-Air Hydropower for Rural Electrification in Haiti
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
At the present time, only one in eight residents of Haiti has access to electricity. Two recent engineering and statistical innovations have the potential for vastly reducing the cost of installation of hydropower in Haiti and the rest of the developing world. The engineering innovation is that wind, solar and fluvial energy have been used to compress air for generation of electricity for only $20 per megawatt-hour, in contrast to the conventional World Bank practice of funding photovoltaic cells for $156 per megawatt-hour. The installation of hydropower requires a record of stream discharge, which is conventionally obtained by installing a gaging station that automatically monitors gage height (height of the water surface above a fixed datum). An empirical rating curve is then used to convert gage height to stream discharge. The multiple field measurements of gage height and discharge over a wide range of discharge values that are required to develop and maintain a rating curve require a manpower of hydrologic technicians that is prohibitive in remote and impoverished areas of the world. The statistical innovation is that machine learning has been applied to the USGS database of nearly four million simultaneous measurements of gage height and discharge to develop a new classification of rivers so that a rating curve can be developed solely from the stream slope, channel geometry, horizontal and vertical distances to the nearest upstream and downstream confluences, and two pairs of discharge – gage height measurements. The objective of this study is to organize local residents to monitor gage height at ten stream sites in the northern peninsula of Haiti over a one-year period in preparation for installation of hydropower at one of the sites. The necessary baseline discharge measurements and channel surveying are being carried out for conversion of gage height to discharge. Results will be reported at the meeting.