Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Electric portfolio modeling with stochastic water - climate interactions: Implications for co-management of water and electric utilities
by Woldeyesus, Tibebe Argaw, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Denver, 2012, 160; 3522945
Abstract (Summary)

Water supply constraints can significantly restrict electric power generation, and such constraints are expected to worsen with future climate change. The overarching goal of this thesis is to incorporate stochastic water-climate interactions into electricity portfolio models and evaluate various pathways for water savings in co-managed water-electric utilities. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is used as a case study to explore the above issues. The thesis consists of three objectives: Characterize seasonality of water withdrawal intensity factors (WWIF) for electric power generation and develop a risk assessment framework due to water shortages; Incorporate water constraints into electricity portfolio models and evaluate the impact of varying capital investments (both power generation and cooling technologies) on water use and greenhouse gas emissions; Compare the unit cost and overall water savings from both water and electric sectors in co-managed utilities to facilitate overall water management. This thesis provided the first discovery and characterization of seasonality of WWIF with distinct summertime and wintertime variations of ±17% compared to the power plant average (0.64gal/kwh) which itself is found to be significantly higher than the literature average (0.53gal/kwh). Both the streamflow and WWIF are found to be highly correlated with monthly average temperature (r-sq = 89%) and monthly precipitation (r-sq of 38%) enabling stochastic simulation of future WWIF under moderate climate change scenario. Future risk to electric power generation also showed the risk to be underestimated significantly when using either the literature average or the power plant average WWIF. Seasonal variation in WWIF along with seasonality in streamflow, electricity demand and other municipal water demands along with storage are shown to be important factors for more realistic risk estimation. The unlimited investment in power generation and/or cooling technologies is also found to save water and GHG emissions by 68% and 75% respectively at a marginal levelized cost increase of 12%. In contrast, the zero investment scenarios (which optimizes exiting technologies to address water scarcity constraints on power generation) shows 50% water savings and 23% GHG emissions reduction at a relatively high marginal levelized cost increase of 37%. Water saving strategies in electric sector show very high cost of water savings ($48,000 and $200,000)/Mgal-year under unlimited investment and zero investment scenarios respectively, but they have greater water saving impacts of 6% to CSU municipal water demand; while the individual water saving strategies from water sector have low cost of water savings ranging from ($37-$1,500)/Mgal-year but with less than 0.5% water reduction impact to CSU due to their low penetration. On the other hand, use of reclaimed water for power plant cooling systems have shown great water savings of up to 92% against the BAU and cost of water saving from ($0-$73,000)/Mgal-year when integrated with unlimited investment and zero investment water minimizing scenarios respectively in the electric sector. Overall, cities need to focus primarily on use of reclaimed water and in new generation technologies' investment including cooling system retrofits while focusing on expanding the penetration rate of individual water saving strategies in the water sector.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ramaswami, Anu
Commitee: Karunanithi, Arunparakash, Macknick, Jordan, Madden, Alice, Rajagopalan, Balaji, Ramaswami, Anu
School: University of Colorado at Denver
Department: Civil Engineering
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-B 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Climate Change, Water Resource Management, Energy
Keywords: Co-management of electric and water utilities, Electric portfolio modeling, Risk assessment and water constraints, Water - climate interactions, Water conservation strategies, Water resource conservation, Water withdrawal intensity factors of thermal plants
Publication Number: 3522945
ISBN: 9781267556172
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