Two natural resource agencies, a university, and a power producer are working to test whether regulation of ramping rates of hydroelectric turbines can provide ecological benefits while, at the same time, minimize production losses. Results could lead to the design of better tools for optimal management of various water uses. Click for original article.
By Karen E. Smokorowski, Robert A. Metcalfe, Nicholas E. Jones, Jérôme Marty, Shilei Niu, and Richard S. Pyrce
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Brookfield Renewable Power Inc., and the University of Waterloo are collaborating on an adaptive management experiment on the Magpie River in Ontario, Canada. Brookfield Renewable Power owns a hydro facility on the river, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is acting as the lead science coordinating agency, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is the agency in charge of regulating water at hydro facilities in Ontario, and the University of Waterloo is providing experts in stable isotope food web analysis and economic analysis.
The goal of this experiment, which began in 2002, is to test whether restricting ramping rates (the rate of change of water flow) through turbines at hydroelectric facilities can provide ecological benefits while, at the same time, minimize production losses.
For the purposes of this article, “ramping rate” refers to the rate of change of water flow (in cubic meters per second per hour) and “peaking” refers to the mode of operation of a facility where water is released in accordance with electricity demand. Unrestricted ramping allows operators to adjust flows rapidly to meet peak demands; restricted ramping requires operators to adjust flow more slowly, reducing the ability to meet peak demands and/or passing water through turbines in excess of that dictated by market forces.