Kendra Sharp, Oregon State University
Gina Warren, University of Houston Law Center
Thomas Mosier, The World Bank
This paper presents a robust planning methodology to identify global opportunities for new small-scale hydropower, which can provide safe and clean electricity to remote communities. Although nearly 160 countries generate electricity from some form of hydropower, accounting for approximately 16 percent of the world’s electricity generation, small hydropower only makes up a small fraction of the current generation. One reason for this is that individual small hydropower, by their nature, often do not have economies-of-scale with respect to investment relative to larger hydropower projects. The investment scale of small hydropower can be increased through packaging multiple small hydropower projects into a single investment package. Accomplishing this requires stakeholders to have accurate climate, facility, and site-specific information, including adequate laws and policies, for a target region. By incorporating law and policy implications into a state-of-the-art computer modeling package (the Hydropower Potential Assessment Tool “HPAT”), stakeholders will be in a better position to identify prime small run of the river hydropower sites within an interest area, so as to generate the most electricity with the least environmental and human impacts.
Untapped small hydropower potential exists worldwide and could deliver upwards of 173 gigawatts (GW) of new energy. This is particularly important for emerging countries where most modern utility-scale energy efficient technologies are too costly and people live in areas too remote to be serviced by the formal electricity grid. In September 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals ranging from ending poverty, inequities, and injustices, to addressing climate change and protecting our natural resources by 2030. Goal 7 seeks to “[e]nsure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” Approximately 1.2 billion people (17% of the world’s population) live without access to electricity today and small hydropower could be one of the many ways to supply affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy to people living in more remote areas.
This paper will provide at least one case study highlighting how to deploy HPAT in the context of a data-sparse developing country, making use of globally and locally available data to illustrate the ideal functioning of the energy and policy modeling methodology. The approach will investigate both historic distribution of hydropower potential and possible changes due to climate change, energy policy within the region, and will use a robust multi-objective optimization to identify small hydropower potential to meet the growth of electricity demand. Importantly, while some local knowledge are important, the majority of inputs to the methodology are globally available, reducing the cost of implementing HPAT for a novel area of interest. The methodology will be useful for decision and policymakers in the private and public sectors and will constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge in the energy-policy-water environment nexus.
Since 1884, institutions commit to legislation that recognizes water as the key-resource for economic development. In terms of surface water, Mendoza is an exceptional case regarding organization and empowerment of stakeholders. However, groundwater management has showed flaws in conservation, both quantity and quality. This paper seeks to describe the economic incentives and behaviour of local stakeholders towards the exploitation of groundwater resources. The analysis will focus on the economic and political framework for energy use.
Main research questions are:
a. Are water and energy policies compromising the quality and availability of irrigation water?
b. What are the stakeholders’ incentives to consider the environmental trade-offs of groundwater use?
Energy subsidies for agricultural irrigation have relied too long as current policy suffering political maneuvers every time they will be withdrawn. The main hypothesis is that energy subsidies for agriculture irrigation and current legislation drive farmers’ behaviour towards an over-exploitation of the aquifer.
In the arid province of Mendoza, groundwater irrigation is vital for agricultural activities in certain areas. Political will to improve profitability of small producers has distorted economic incentives and led to the creation of power asymmetries among stakeholders and decision makers. Jointly, a political and economic analysis are carried below to unmask the reform arena of public policies that link water and energy in the agricultural sector.
A policy assessment and appraisal of institutions was carried. Following a tripod framework for political and economic analysis, the institutional settings of the water-energy nexus were revised, and the incentives and behavior of stakeholders were analyzed.
Findings indicate joint implications of water and energy policies for groundwater availability. The resulting table of analysis deploys more policy tools oriented to the demand side and relevant participation of collective management within the framework. During the last 15 years, policies have not provided consistent economic incentives to agriculture producers to consider environmental degradation of groundwater resources.
The DGI remains as the highest authority in terms of resource administration, information systems and control of the water system. The resulting analysis in table III deploys of more policy tools oriented to the demand side and relevant participation of collective management within the framework.
Conceiving a subsidy to extract water may improve the living standard of less profitable farmers is not the right orientation to improve their livelihood. On the contrary, when policies are not complemented under instructive and participatory approaches that improve water management; farmers will continue to rely on their traditional irrigation practices with a marginal productivity of water constant and similar cost of production.
Jointly, the review of the institutional settings and the political disputes about water resources quality and management reveal the public sensibility on the pollution of common pool resource, as the Carrizal aquifer. In particular, when quality degradation is not diffuse but local.
Mexico’s government enacted an energy reform in 2013 that aims to foster competitiveness and private investment throughout the energy sector value chain. Energy and water are dependent on each other; hence, it is relevant to quantify the potential impacts of the energy reform on Mexico’s water resources. Derived from this reform, the development of onshore unconventional oil and gas resources trapped in shale basins through hydraulic fracturing is expected. Hydraulic fracturing (HF) is a water-intensive activity that requires millions of gallons of water per well. The objective of this research is to quantify the water available to supply production in the onshore unconventional oil and gas reserves reported by Advanced Resources International. To do so, we conduct a multilayer data analysis to estimate water availability for HF activities in Mexico. This analysis considered 1) groundwater availability 2) surface water availability, and 3) volume of water required for the total unconventional fields to be developed according to Mexico’s shale reserves. Preliminary results suggest that there are more areas with groundwater availability than surface water availability within an expected distance of the potential HF sites. Furthermore, HF will not have a relevant water availability impact on areas with high groundwater availability (mainly eastern Mexico), but it could cause more stress in groundwater-scarce areas (mainly northern Mexico).
Mineral and metal extraction often takes place in some of the world’s driest areas, including the southwest states of the United States of America, Northern Mexico, Western Australia, South Africa, Chile, and Peru among many others. In the majority of these areas, availability of water is low and expected to decrease as a result of climate change. Examples of expected outcomes are: a higher incidence of local conflicts between water users, greater environmental damage and reduced productivity of operations. In many cases, governments are making policies to reduce consumption in certain industries. The mining industry, in general, is a large consumer of freshwater and the impact in arid areas can be extremely damaging. Therefore, it is necessary for operations in many circumstances to improve their water management or explore the potential for alternative water sources. Nevertheless, with the global economy performing poorly and mineral prices attaining low levels, mining companies are reluctant to invest in large scale projects to reduce their water consumption or, in other cases, use water from alternative and more sustainable sources. This paper assesses options for reducing freshwater consumption in the mining industry by cost benefit analysis to determine which are the most favourable options for particular operating variables.
The methodology for the analysis is water budget and cost analysis for typical mining operations using variables such as ore type, ore grade, throughput, climate and location among various others. Models have been developed to determine the operational consumption depending upon the variables and analysis of water saving techniques has been conducted to calculate the effectiveness of certain strategies such as improved on site water management, implementation of dewatering technologies and the use of seawater as an alternative water source. The cost per unit of water saved was then calculated to ascertain which strategy was most cost-effective for the base case. The variables were then modified to understand their importance upon the cost-effectiveness of each strategy.
It was found that the most cost-effective strategies were: (1) improving on site water management through reduction of evaporation via the use of dust suppressants, and (2) the implementation of technologies to recycle water from tailings. These strategies were particularly important when the location of the mine was assumed to be isolated, i.e. in a location far from the coastline or at high altitude where the use of seawater was prohibitively expensive due to pumping cost. In certain cases, however, when circumstances were such that a new source of water was imperative or the location was near to the coastline, the use of seawater as an alternative source was found to be comparatively feasible economically.
In the current economic and environmental landscape, mining companies and governments are facing the necessary task of adopting new operating strategies and regulations to change water consumption habits in the mining industry to continue operating whilst avoiding conflicts, environmental damage and the associated risks. This paper provides an analysis of the most cost-effective methods of achieving that goal under various circumstances.
In over 20 years, BECC has assisted 32 water utilities along the Northern Mexico Border States to improve their infrastructure through implementation of 80 projects with a cost of $1,509 Million USD. The impact has been significant, but most utilities are in financial hardship, unable to maintain a sustainable operation due in part to the high cost of electricity which is also a major contributor to GHG emissions.
Consequently, BECC established an Energy Audit program in 2013. Its purpose is to identify measures that water utilities can implement to reduce energy consumption. Audits have been carried out by the program in over a dozen cities. The efficiency measures identified have major impacts in the utilities’ energy costs, a major component of its overall operational costs. Most measures identified have payback periods ranging from a few months to 2 years. The measures consistently found can be grouped into three categories: Cost of Energy, Specific Equipment Efficiency, and Operational Efficiency.
The first energy audit conducted in 2013 for SIMAS Piedras Negras has now demonstrated results and exemplifies the use of the Energy Audits as a means to improve the utility’s management practices and overall financial results. During 2014-15, SIMAS invested approximately $500K to implement some of the measures identified. The measures immediately showed savings to SIMAS, with a yearly projection of over $850K, approximately 45% of its annual overall energy cost. The pending measures identified will require additional investments of approximately $300K and would increase total yearly savings to an estimated $1 million. The key elements that made this case successful include: 1) BECC’s Energy Audit program; 2) political will by SIMAS to implement identified measures, including a substantial financial commitment; and 3) good relationship and alignment of priorities between SIMAS and the Municipality.
As a second phase to the Energy Efficiency program, during 2015, BECC partnered with the German Cooperation for Sustainable Development (GIZ) to develop a Network for Energy Efficiency Learning for Water Utilities in Coahuila, including 14 small to medium size cities. The concept of these networks allows the program to substantially expand the benefits of the Energy Audits at a fraction of the cost, includes follow up during implementation of recommendations, supplements technical support from experts, and information sharing among peers.
The framework of the Network included initial diagnosis to identify potential energy efficiency measures for all participants, their potential investment and savings. Over 100 potential measures were identified, with combined savings of over 30% of the total energy consumption of the group. Each participant committed to implement certain measures with their available resources. The participants also identified a second group of high savings’ measures, which could be implemented using economies of scale and outside financial support. These measures would allow quick overall energy savings of over 20% of the group’s energy bills. The experience gained through this effort will allow BECC to enhance and replicate the concept in all Border States as an Institutional Development Program to improve operations and long term financial viability of water utilities.