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The Case Study

Discuss About The Sustainable Energy Solutions Electric Power?

Creating a more sustainable system in the energy generation sector has never gained more traction than it has for the last 24 months. Notably, the renewable energy technologies have excited a lot of interest from the market players and the consumers such that the conventional energy generation techniques continued to receive a dwindling market focus. Topping the list is the need to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Water levels have drastically gone down courtesy of rapidly changing world climatic patterns due to global warming (National Hydropower Association, 2018). Consequently, the power generation capacities in hydroelectric stations have considerably gone down. On the other hand, the growth in renewable energy sector has been catapulted by a number of factors (Environmental Performance Index, 2018) . Admittedly, a huge chunk of investments have unreservedly been diverted towards establishing and fortifying the existing energy systems to make them more efficient and reliable. For example, Installation of solar energy systems in residential homes has escalated in the recent past in a bid to boost the clean energy generation capacities. Nevertheless, the traditional energy generating systems can never be wished away. The hydroelectric power is perhaps one of the most efficient large scale energy generation systems whose sustainable nature can further be boosted by improving the current harnessing technologies. In this report, the issue of sustainable energy generation is dwelt on by considering a number of existential sustainability challenges and how they have been addressed. A specific case example is picked to illustrate the issues and discuss some of the sustainability factors that have been put in place to fortify the generation capacities. The aim is to uncover how engineering sustainability approaches have successfully been applied to hydroelectric power production plants. Notably, for the purpose of this report, sustainability in this case would mean the state of the plant being able to match efficiently the predetermined power generation requirements with minimum environmental degradation including the natural ecosystem surrounding the plant (Ossai, 2017).

From here henceforth the focus of discussion is on hydroelectric power plant situated in Lake Glenmaggie, Victoria. The Lake Glenmaggie power plant is among the most historically significant plants in Australia. This plant was installed in 1994 along with the other two, namely: Lake William Hovell and Eildon Pondage power plants. It has since served the Victorians by injecting 3.8 MW of power to the national grid (Ensia, 2018). Notably, environmentally friendly improvements have since been carried out on the plant and its surroundings making it one of the recreational facilities of choice to both local and international tourists. Admittedly, these achievements are as a result of a sustainable improvement plan carried out by the relevant authorities.

Objective

The objectives of this report include:

  1. To review the existing sustainability technologies in the selected hydroelectric power plant
  2. To comprehend the different aspects of sustainability in the context of the given case
  3. To further provide an improvement on the existing technologies so as to handle the emerging issues and issues of the future
  4. To provide an informative platform where further interrogation of the existential challenges in the sector can be highlighted
  5. Sustainability Factors

As mentioned earlier, sustainability in energy generation is a term that broadly encompasses different aspects; extending to include the environmental wellbeing and a healthy ecosystem within the periphery of the hydropower plant (Iopscience.iop.org, 2018). Notably, therefore, from the review of different articles, these were the sustainable factors identified:   

Due to increased human activities like deforestation, dams have been affected more than ever before by sedimentation (Niu et al., 2015). According to J Luis et al (2013), sedimentation results in the following: weakening of the safety safeguards as the deposited materials pose great danger in case of dam failure; the volume of live water is considerably reduced as the sediments get deposited in the dam; due to frequent shut downs to remove the sediments, the cost of maintenance lowers the revenue collection from the economic activity; and it also affect the surrounding natural habitat and the entire ecosystem. For example, fish pathways are often blocked leading to suffocation resulting in degradation of the aqua life which needs to be supported. Besides, dredging to remove the sediments is often a costly undertaking; however, with proper management, this problem has been efficiently handled in Lake Glenmaggie. Consequently, there has been a considerable improvement in the generation capacity of the plant.

Forestation and Reforestation programs were successfully launched and implemented under the sponsorship of the local community organization. More trees have been planted around the area surrounding the dam so as to minimize the amount of sediments that get eroded into the lake, besides; it serves to stabilize the surrounding soils hence making it to be less susceptible to wash down by the surface runoffs. Consequently, it resulted in more revenues streaming from the power plant and the recreational fees collected; besides, the aesthetic value of the place has gone up. Additionally, power generating capacities went up due to the improved volumes of live water (National Hydropower Association, 2018).

As mentioned above, the improvement projects of Lake Glenmaggie power plant were focused on diversifying the plant’s purpose by integrating the socio-economic significance of the area. A part from power generation, which is the main purpose of the dam, it also continues to serve as a recreational facility to both local and international tourists (Pacific Hydro, 2017). Furthermore, environmental engineers helped design the beautiful waterfront in which the principles of sustainability such as minimizing wastes from the plant were considered (Ensia, 2018).

Sedimentation challenge and the measures

As part of boosting the generation performance of the plant, there was need to adopt more effective harnessing technologies such as recycling of live water. What happens is that once the energy from the live water has been harnessed, it is diverted to a temporary storage unit and then pumped back to the system to supplement power generation especially in the dry season yet demand is always at peak. Although this system may prove expensive to run and maintain, in the long run it makes more economical sense (Kadier et al., 2018).

These are the storage units in which the overflows and the used live water are diverted. They are often installed near the main dam to minimize on the channeling and piping work and also to economically make sense. Although in Lake Glenmaggie dam they are yet to be installed, but they have proven to be conduits in which endless live water usage can be facilitated hence minimizing waste in harnessing potential. Besides, they provide buffering facilities during high volume water season (Bao et al., 2018). The aqua life can comfortably be supported by such developments.

It has been established that a further improvement in the mode of operation at the plant could drastically improve efficiency and minimize the wastes that is currently being experienced (Renewableenergyworld.com, 2018 & Hydrosustainability.org, 2018). This could be done through a dedicated program implementation of the new technologies.  

A part from having the hydropower storage cells installed, another way to ensure efficiency of plant is greatly improved would be to do an overhaul of the entire technical aspects in the plant. From design of the generators to the power distribution channels to the grid, it will be necessary to undertake an overhauling assessment to identify the priority areas that are really in need of improvement and thereafter develop a plan for renovations (Kaunda, Kimambo and Nielsen, 2018). As explained earlier, running a hydropower plant is very expensive but it will be even much costly to run a plant that operates below its capacity because of the endless wastes along the power supply chain. Notably, these technologies, according to Renewable Energy World (2013), could comprise: having variable speed drives to integrate the aspect of operational flexibility such that power generation would depend on what is actually demanded at a given period of time. For example, peak hours could be between morning and evening hours; here the plant is allowed to operate at maximum capacity and when demand decreases, the plant generation performance could be adjusted downwards such that in the long run the operational costs are optimized and margins of revenue are greatly improved. 

Prevention Measures

Plant performance monitoring in a continuous fashion is often encouraged as it facilitates value stream mapping that leads to further continuous improvement of the existing systems and make them more sustainable (Mortey et al., 2017). Energy.gov (2018) proposes a special tool-skit that can be used to undertake a plant performance analysis in real-time. The aim is to optimize the water use for power generation. The tool set comprises: hydrologic scheduling, real-time operations, day-ahead scheduling and environmental performance analysis (Energy.gov, 2018). In environmental performance analysis, it checks how plant affects the immediate environment in which the ecosystem and the natural habitat are situated. Needless to say, a further innovative solutions in this arena need to be encouraged so that the plant goes beyond power generation to include sustaining the ecological balance in the region (Issaadi, Issaadi and Khireddine, 2018). For instance, fish habitat must not be interfered with during such endeavors of improving the generation capacity of the plant (Energy.gov, 2018). Furthermore, the green energy concept must be encouraged such that the plant wastes are minimized and contribute to the restoration efforts of the ozone layer.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, the report has focused on providing a review on the available sustainable approaches in the arena of hydro electric power generation. Specifically, a case study was selected and the outline issues relooked. Some sustainability challenges were identified and the accompanying preventive measures were highlighted thereafter. Notably, some of the techniques currently in use will have to be further improved in order to match the ever growing list of sustainability issues. Nevertheless, through active participation of the local community, the plant and the area around the plant has effectively been improved to extend it into a recreational spot as well. For instance, the aspect of supporting the ecosystem such as the aqua life has been received well by the local community (Environmental Performance Index, 2018). This has enabled the recreational value of the area to improve tremendously. However, moving forward in the hydropower generation, there will be need of continuously improving the existing systems to match with the growing expectation list (Capik, Osman Y?lmaz and Cavusoglu, 2012) . For instance, the generator will have to be redesigned to boost its conversion efficiency so that we further minimize the conversion losses. Additionally, the area surrounding the plant, as mentioned earlier will need to be protected by adopting more stringent legislations to protect such waterfronts. Admittedly, these sustainability improvement projects are meant not only to boost the plant performance so that more power can be available at a relatively cheaper cost but also contribute to the socio-economic wellbeing of the local community through the facilitation of fish farming and establishment of urban waterfronts that boost the recreational value of the region (Lord, 2016).

References

Bao, H., Yang, J., Zhao, G., Zeng, W., Liu, Y. and Yang, W. (2018). Condition of setting surge tanks in hydropower plants – A review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 81, pp.2059-2070.

Capik, M., Osman Y?lmaz, A. and Cavusoglu, ?. (2012). Hydropower for sustainable energy development in Turkey: The small hydropower case of the Eastern Black Sea Region. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 16(8), pp.6160-6172.

Energy.gov. (2018). Hydropower Technology Development | Department of Energy. [online] Available at: https://energy.gov/eere/water/hydropower-technology-development [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].

Ensia. (2018). How to make hydropower more environmentally friendly. [online] Available at: https://ensia.com/features/hydropower/ [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].

Environmental Performance Index. (2018). Energy Sustainability Index. [online] Available at: https://archive.epi.yale.edu/indicators-in-practice/energy-sustainability-index [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].

Hydrosustainability.org. (2018). Hydropower Sustainability - Home. [online] Available at: https://www.hydrosustainability.org/ [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].

Issaadi, W., Issaadi, S. and Khireddine, A. (2018). Comparative study of photovoltaic system optimization techniques: Contribution to the improvement and development of new approaches. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 82, pp.2112-2127.

J Luis et al. (2013).Sustainability of hydropower as source of renewable and clean energy. IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 16 012050. Available at:  https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/16/1/012050/pdf [Accessed 31 Jan 2018]

Kadier, A., Kalil, M., Pudukudy, M., Hasan, H., Mohamed, A. and Hamid, A. (2018). Pico hydropower (PHP) development in Malaysia: Potential, present status, barriers and future perspectives. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 81, pp.2796-2805.

Kaunda, C., Kimambo, C. and Nielsen, T. (2018). Hydropower in the Context of Sustainable Energy Supply: A Review of Technologies and Challenges.

Lord, A. (2016). Citizens of a hydropower nation: Territory and agency at the frontiers of hydropower development in Nepal. Economic Anthropology, 3(1), pp.145-160.

Mortey, E., Ofosu, E., Kolodko, D. and Kabobah, A. (2017). Sustainability Assessment of the Bui Hydropower System. Environments, 4(2), p.25.

National Hydropower Association. (2018). Clean & Sustainable - National Hydropower Association. [online] Available at: https://www.hydro.org/waterpower/why-hydro/clean-and-sustainable/ [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].

Niu, C., Wang, Q., Chen, J., Zhang, W., Xu, L. and Wang, K. (2015). Hazard Assessment of Debris Flows in the Reservoir Region of Wudongde Hydropower Station in China. Sustainability, 7(12), pp.15099-15118.

Ossai, C. (2017). Optimal renewable energy generation – Approaches for managing ageing assets mechanisms. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 72, pp.269-280.

Renewableenergyworld.com. (2018). Three Ways to Increase Hydropower Efficiency and Revenues. [online] Available at: https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2013/05/three-ways-to-increase-hydropower-efficiency-and-revenues.html [Accessed 31 Jan. 2018].

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