Aerosol Impacts on the Hydrology and Hydropower Generation in California
Improving forecasts to operate hydropower units more efficiently.
The Regents of the University of California - Riverside
The research team successfully ran a chemistry-aerosol-meteorological model and coupled this model with a model used by Southern California Edison (SCE) to operate their Big Creek Hydroelectric System. The modeling results suggest that aerosols induce a reduction of annual inflows on the order of 4% to 14% but that the reductions are more significant in the summer. The research team calculated the loss of generation and revenue and found that aerosols reduce hydropower generation by about 6%, which is equivalent to an annual loss of about $3 million a year. The final report was submitted and will be posted in the near future. The researchers have shared results with others via scientific conferences and journal publications. SCE was heavily involved with the research team during the execution of the project and co-authored a conference paper with the research team.View Final Report
Hydrologic forecasts for hydropower units can have substantial errors. This hampers the efficient management of hydropower units. Hydropower is a very important clean resource that provides peak generation in hot summer months and can provide electricity when wind and/or solar resources go down. Improving hydrologic forecasts could substantially increase these and other benefits obtained from hydropower units. Simulating the effect of aerosols (small particles in the air) into clouds and precipitation is a very promising option to improve weather/climate forecasts.
The research team enhanced and used a fully coupled aerosol-meteorology-snowpack forecast model for hydropower applications, using observational datasets (precipitation, snowpack, stream inflow) for Southern California Edison's hydropower plant on Big Creek. The main goal was to estimate the impacts of aerosols on hydropower generation and explore the use of improved forecasts to improve the management of hydropower units.
The proposed research is intended to significantly advance our knowledge of aerosol impacts on the hydrology and hydropower generation in California. The results of this project are expected to improve the management of hydropower units which should reduce overall electricity generation costs and assist with adaptation under a changing climate.
The improved forecast should maximize California ratepayer benefits by increasing the hydroelectric power plant's availability, flexibility and revenue in the wholesale electricity market.
Improved hydropower management will foster the use of a clean and flexible generation resource during peak hours.
Key Project Members
Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Riverside
University of California Los Angeles