Electricity and water resources

Our current and recent projects on electricity and water resources:

Understanding power grid reliability in response to drought and heat wave conditions

Under drought and
heat wave conditions, the impacts of power generation on water resources are exacerbated. While there is often adequate generation capacity to completely eliminate these impacts by shutting down affected generators, the resulting grid configuration might be unreliable. In this work, we examine the tradeoffs between water externalities and electricity reliability under water-stressed conditions and develop approaches for optimal decision-making.

– W.N. Lubega and A.S. Stillwell. (2017). “Maintaining electric grid reliability under hydrologic drought and heat wave conditions.” Applied Energy, In press.

Sponsor: Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment

Integrating thermoelectric power generation operations with aquatic ecosystem sustainability

With rising population comes an increasing demand for electricity generation. The rise in electricity generation will likely require tradeoffs in ecosystem sustainability, particularly as a result of thermal pollution from thermoelectric power plant cooling operations. By incorporating biology into the energy-water nexus, power plant operators and policy makers can better manage the generation of electricity while also promoting ecosystem sustainability. Our work aims to quantify the direct risk posed to aquatic species from thermal pollution, while also providing a method and framework for further assessment of the tradeoffs between power generation and aquatic ecosystems.Thumbnail image_LHL

Sponsor: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Roy J. Carver Fellowship in Engineering

Estimating impacts of power plants on water resources in Illinois

Thermoelectric power generation requires significant volumes of water for cooling. Power generation in Illinois depends on mostly coal and nuclear fuels, making electricity in Illinois particularly thirsty. In our study of the energy-water nexus in Illinois, we quantify the water withdrawal and consumption for power generation and simulate the effects of fuel and cooling technology shifts.EWNinIL

– T.A. DeNooyer, J.M. Peschel, Z. Zhang, and A.S. Stillwell. (2016). “Integrating water resources and power generation: The energy-water nexus in Illinois.” Applied Energy, 162(1), 363-371.

Sponsor: National Great Rivers Research and Education Center

water · energy · policy