Climate change impacts on high-elevation hydroelectricity in California

Kaveh Madani, Marion Guegan, Cintia Bertacchi Uvo

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While only about 30% of California's usable water storage capacity lies at higher elevations, high-elevation (above 300 m) hydropower units generate, on average, 74% of California's in-state hydroelectricity. In general, high-elevation plants have small man-made reservoirs and rely mainly on snowpack. Their low built-in storage capacity is a concern with regard to climate warming. Snowmelt is expected to shift to earlier in the year, and the system may not be able to store sufficient water for release in high-demand periods. Previous studies have explored the climate warming effects on California's high-elevation hydropower by focusing on the supply side (exploring the effects of hydrological changes on generation and revenues) ignoring the warming effects on hydroelectricity demand and pricing. This study extends the previous work by simultaneous consideration of climate change effects on high-elevation hydropower supply and pricing in California. The California's Energy-Based Hydropower Optimization Model (EBHOM 2.0) is applied to evaluate the adaptability of California's high-elevation hydropower system to climate warming, considering the warming effects on hydroelectricity supply and pricing. The model's results relative to energy generation, energy spills, reservoir energy storage, and average shadow prices of energy generation and storage capacity expansion are examined and discussed. These results are compared with previous studies to emphasize the need to consider climate change effects on hydroelectricity demand and pricing when exploring the effects of climate change on hydropower operations. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Originalspråkengelska
Sidor (från-till)153-163
TidskriftJournal of Hydrology
Volym510
DOI
StatusPublished - 2014

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