Clean Currents 2023

A3b: Leveraging Non-Powered Dams for Hydropower Generation: A Multi-Criteria Decision Framework for Site-Level Analysis

In pursuing a net-zero carbon emissions economy in the United States, developing hydropower at existing infrastructure represents a significant opportunity. There are approximately 500 infrastructure sites in the U.S. identified as having the potential to generate over 1 MW of electricity (with a total capacity of 8,000 MW), but only a small portion of the generation capacity at these sites has been developed in recent years.

One of the primary challenges of analyzing retrofits of existing infrastructure is the absence of a unified framework that utilizes interdisciplinary collaboration and stakeholder input. These retrofit analyses should consider not only the generation potential, but also the feasibility of energy-storage technologies and hydrogen production at potential sites (i.e., hybrid sites).

Typically, conversion projects focus solely on the developer’s perspective, specifically the return on investment. Auxiliary services, including co-benefits or negative trade-offs associated with neighboring communities and ecosystem services, are often ignored due to the lack of broad dynamic systems models. Such systems models need to incorporate policy, regulation, environment, community, economy, and power system goals for different development pathways and technology types.

In this study, we propose a site-level multi-criteria decision framework that allows for interaction across multiple sectors to identify mutually acceptable and equitable outcomes by comparing socio-environmental development and investment portfolios.
Such a holistic approach can be critical, especially in economically distressed areas that could benefit from new and unique opportunities stemming from hydropower generation and technology development.
Our proposed framework is developed based on a stakeholder ecosystem map that identifies key stakeholders at each stage of the project and their respective linkages with specific needs, benefits, and development opportunities. Additionally, we provide a brief overview of the interdisciplinary modeling sectors that contribute to the overall development of the framework.

Presenter Information

Kazi Tamaddun

Kazi Tamaddun
Earth Scientist – Applied Hydro-Climatologist, Energy and Environment Directorate
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), U.S. Department of Energy
Poster Presenter

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