Full Title: Quantifying the Value of Hydropower in the Electric Grid: Role of Hydropower in Existing Markets
Author(s): Verne W. Loose
Publisher(s): Sandia National Laboratories
Publication Date: 1/2011

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The electrical power industry is facing the prospect of integrating a significant addition of variable generation technologies in the next several decades, primarily from wind and solar facilities. Overall, transmission and generation reserve levels are decreasing and power system infrastructure in general is aging. To maintain grid reliability modernization and expansion of the power system as well as more optimized use of existing resources will be required. Conventional and pumped storage hydroelectric facilities can provide an increasingly significant contribution to power system reliability by providing energy, capacity and other ancillary services. However, the potential role of hydroelectric power will be affected by another transition that the industry currently experiences——the evolution and expansion of electricity markets. This evolution to market-based acquisition of generation resources and grid management is taking place in a heterogeneous manner. Some North American regions are moving toward full-featured markets while other regions operate without formal markets. Yet other U.S. regions are partially evolved. This report examines the current structure of electric industry acquisition of energy and ancillary services in different regions organized along different structures, reports on the current role of hydroelectric facilities in various regions, and attempts to identify features of market and scheduling areas that either promote or thwart the increased role that hydroelectric power can play in the future. This report is part of a larger effort led by the Electric Power Research Institute with purpose of examining the potential for hydroelectric facilities to play a greater role in balancing the grid in an era of greater penetration of variable renewable energy technologies. Other topics that will be addressed in this larger effort include industry case studies of specific conventional and hydro-electric facilities, systemic operating constraints on hydro-electric resources, and production cost simulations aimed at quantifying the increased role of hydro.