The impacts of wind power integration on sub-daily variation in river flows downstream of hydroelectric dams.
Due to their operational flexibility, hydroelectric dams are ideal candidates to compensate for the intermittency and unpredictability of wind energy production. However, more coordinated use of wind and hydropower resources may exacerbate the impacts dams have on downstream environmental flows, that is, the timing and magnitude of water flows needed to sustain river ecosystems. In this paper, we examine the effects of increased (i.e., 5%, 15%, and 25%) wind market penetration on prices for electricity and reserves, and assess the potential for altered price dynamics to disrupt reservoir release schedules at a hydroelectric dam and cause more variable and unpredictable hourly flow patterns (measured in terms of the Richards-Baker Flashiness (RBF) index). Results show that the greatest potential for wind energy to impact downstream flows occurs at high (∼25%) wind market penetration, when the dam sells more reserves in order to exploit spikes in real-time electricity prices caused by negative wind forecast errors. Nonetheless, compared to the initial impacts of dam construction (and the dam's subsequent operation as a peaking resource under baseline conditions) the marginal effects of any increased wind market penetration on downstream flows are found to be relatively minor.
Kern, JD; Patino-Echeverri, D; Characklis, GW
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