Power and Water Woes

A paper from Amrita University’s School of Engineering at Amritapuri campus was recently accepted for publication in Elsevier’s International Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems.

Power and Water WoesDr. P. Kanakasabapathy, Associate Professor and Vice-Chairperson, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering authored this research paper titled Economic Impact of Pumped Storage Power Plant on Social Welfare of Electricity Market.

Demand for electrical power is relentlessly increasing every day. As demand rises, electricity tariffs are also going up. The world is under unprecedented pressure to switch to renewable forms of energy. Supply fluctuations in these have so far hampered the wide-scale acceptance of these cleaner forms of energy.

But if power plants could store large amounts of electrical energy, then some of the uncertainty currently associated with solar and wind power could be offset.

In his paper, Dr. Kanakasabapathy offered a means of efficiently storing electrical energy for use when it is required and not readily generated or available.

Pumped-storage is not a new concept. It is already used for load balancing by many power plants. These usually have one reservoir of water, situated at a height, and in a process akin to hydro electric power generation, store and produce electricity as required.

Power and Water Woes

But Dr. Kanakasabapathy’s paper offers an enhancement over this conventional model. His proposed pumped-storage hydroelectricity plant with two reservoirs, an upper reservoir and a lower reservoir, will store energy in the form or water,  which will be pumped from the lower to the higher reservoir.

In the event, that the electrical energy produced is more, excess generation capacity will be used to pump water into the upper reservoir. In times of higher demand, water will be released back into the lower reservoir through a turbine, generating electricity.

“Pumped-storage plants provide a means for storing energy so that it can be released quickly when needed. These plants can respond very quickly to sudden changes in electrical demand,” stated Dr. Kanakasabapathy.

“My paper investigates the impact of pumped-storage energy trading on the net welfare of power market as the volume of pumped-storage continues to grow. Energy trading by pumped-storage increases the overall social welfare of markets and may have different implications for the consumers as well as for generators of power market,” he added.

Power and Water Woes

“Operating pumped-storage plants affect the consumer and producer surplus of the individual market and hence lead to significant changes in energy prices and market efficiency,” he further elaborated.

Perhaps true. But in a world that is already threatened by a severe shortage of water, it remains to be seen whether this can offer any sustainable solution at all.

October 26, 2012
School of Engineering, Amritapuri

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