Quantifying the value of hydropower

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Electric Power Research Institute

An Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) report summarizes research to quantify the value of hydropower in the electric grid. This three-year Department of Energy (DOE) study focused on defining value of hydropower assets in a changing electric grid.

With increasing deployment of wind and solar renewable generation, many owners, operators and developers of hydropower have recognized the opportunity to provide more flexibility and ancillary services to the electric grid. To quantify value of services, the study focused on the Western Electric Coordinating Council region. A security-constrained, unit commitment and economic dispatch model was used to quantify the role of hydropower for several future energy scenarios up to 2020.

The study confirmed hydropower resources across the United States contribute significantly to operation of the grid in energy, capacity and ancillary services. Many potential improvements to existing hydropower plants were found to be cost-effective. Pumped storage is the most likely form of large new hydro asset expansions in the U.S. Justifying investments in new pumped storage plants remains challenging with current electricity market economics. Even over a wide range of possible energy futures up to 2020, no energy future was found to bring quantifiable revenues sufficient to cover estimated costs of plant construction.

There are key takeaways from the report:

·         The report summarizes a three-year DOE/EPRI/utility research effort to value hydro grid services.

·         The report synthesizes all the results into recommendations of how to better capture the value of hydropower resources by pointing out 10 ways to potentially increase the value of hydro to electric grid.

·         Those 10 ways are split into value streams of operational improvements, new technology advantages or electricity market opportunities. Six of the 10 value streams are included in the report and given a potential increased value.

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June 2015
Volume 93, Issue 3

POWERGRID International

July 2015
Volume 20, Issue 7