Exploring current and projected tradeoffs between hydropower profitability and reliability of supply in the Alps

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 15:10
3011 (Moscone West)
Daniela Anghileri, ETH - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Institute of Environmental Engineering, Zurich, Switzerland, Andrea Castelletti, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, 20133, Italy and Paolo Burlando, ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
The recent spreading of renewable energy across Europe and the associated production variability and uncertainty are emerging challenges for hydropower system operation. Widely distributed and highly intermittent solar and wind power generation systems, along with feed-in-tariffs, at which they are remunerated, are threating the operation of traditional hydropower systems. For instance, in countries where the transition to a larger production by means of renewable power systems is a novel process, e.g. Switzerland, many hydropower companies are operating their reservoirs with low or no profits, claiming for a revision of the entire energy market system. This situation goes along with the problem of ensuring energy supply both nowadays and in the future, with changing energy demand and available water resources. In this work, we focus on a hydropower system in the Swiss Alps to explore how different operating policies can cope with both adequate energy supply and profitable operation under current and future climate and socio-economic conditions. We investigate the operation of the Mattmark reservoir in South-West Switzerland. Mattmark is a pumped reservoir of 98 106 m3 fed by a natural catchment of 37 km2 and contributing catchments, summing up to 51 km2, connected by several diversion channels. The hydrological regime, snow- and ice-melt dominated, has already experienced changes in the last decades due to glacier retreat and is expected to be strongly impacted by climate change in the future. We use Multi-Objective optimization techniques to explore current tradeoffs between profitability and secure supply. We then investigate how tradeoffs may evolve in time under different climate change projections and energy market scenarios. Results inform on the co-evolution of climate- and socio-economic induced variations, thus unveiling potential co-benefit situations to hydropower generation and providing insights to future energy market design.