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Title:Low-head hydropower as a reserve power source for wind power
Author(s):Auth, Trevor L.
Advisor(s):Stillwell, Ashlynn S.; Garcia, Marcelo H.
Department / Program:Civil & Environmental Eng
Discipline:Civil Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Low-Head Hydropower
Small Hydropower
Renewable Energy
Abstract:Wind power generation faces intermittency challenges, typically requiring reserve power generation sources burning fossil fuels to maintain reliability of the electricity grid in the event of a decrease in wind. This study proposes an alternative hypothesis: that hydropower turbines installed at low-head dams can provide similar reserve power generation to support wind, thereby avoiding the externalities associated with fossil-fuel plants and conventional hydropower. Low-head dams, common across the United States, are used for flood control, securing municipal water supplies, and providing ample water depth for recreation. As a case study, hydropower potential at 13 such dams along a 150-kilometer reach of the Fox River (Northeastern Illinois, USA) was estimated using a HEC-RAS model calibrated with U.S. Geological Survey data. The output of the model was then analyzed to determine the capacity of the system and gauge its reliability both as a standalone generator and as a component in a coupled wind-hydropower system. Findings revealed that economic, environmental, and regulatory factors all affected the implementation of this low-head hydropower system. The system was found to perform reliably over a five-year time period in spite of significant long-term fluctuations in streamflow, thereby enabling it to offset the short-term variability of wind power. However, combining the low-head hydropower system with wind power limits the reliable output of the entire system to the lowest amount of power generated by the low-head hydropower system, regardless of how much wind power is deployed. The low-head hydropower system's relatively small capacity and inauspicious cost-benefit ratio suggest that this low-head hydropower system would be best suited for local applications rather than grid-scale operations, especially if environmental and regulatory considerations are included.
Issue Date:2019-04-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Trevor Auth
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05

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