Special Issue "Impact of River Hydrology on Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydraulics and Hydrodynamics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 August 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Alberto Bianchi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Politecnico of Milan, Dept Civil & Environm Engn DICA, MILAN, ITALY
Interests: hydraulic engineering; water resources management; water hammer; pumping station; hydraulic risk

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current theme of this Special Issue is the impact that the awareness of the non-stationarity of hydrological phenomena, and of river hydrology in particular, has on river hydraulic engineering and hydropower. This goes hand in hand with the awareness of the non-stationarity of the climate.

Closely linked to climate change is the growing need for environmental protection and, more generally, for sustainable development, including from a social point of view. Future river engineering works should be conceived, designed, built, and managed in view of these future scenarios, and their feasibility should no longer be assessed only in economic terms but through parameters and indices that quantify their sustainability and the contribution they make to the improvement of the living conditions of the individual and the human community.

River engineering works, river basin reclamation, flood control, bridges, as well as dams and reservoirs for irrigation, drinking, and energy purposes must adapt to and be designed for these scenarios and evaluation criteria. Hydroelectric plants, in particular, are expected to play an increasing role in satisfying the demand for energy from renewable sources. Reservoirs for hydroelectric purposes, in particular, can play an important function in compensating for the differences between the demand and supply of electric power.

Studies are required that cover a) future hydrological regimes of river basins, specifically of those ones in mountainous regions with significant extension of glaciers; b) evolution of the demand for electricity and its value; and c) the search for feasibility parameters of river engineering works and systems and hydroelectric power plants that exceed the limits of mere economic feasibility.

Prof. Alberto Bianchi
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • river hydrology
  • river engineering
  • hydroelectric power plants
  • climate change
  • economic feasibility indices
  • circular economy
  • sustainable development

Published Papers (6 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
Valuing Enhanced Hydrologic Data and Forecasting for Informing Hydropower Operations
Water 2021, 13(16), 2260; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13162260 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 693
Abstract
Climate change is rapidly modifying historic river flows and snowpack conditions in the Sierra Nevada in California and other seasonally snow-covered mountains. Statistical forecasting methods based on regressing summer flow against spring snow water equivalent, precipitation, and antecedent runoff are thus becoming increasingly [...] Read more.
Climate change is rapidly modifying historic river flows and snowpack conditions in the Sierra Nevada in California and other seasonally snow-covered mountains. Statistical forecasting methods based on regressing summer flow against spring snow water equivalent, precipitation, and antecedent runoff are thus becoming increasingly inadequate for water-resources decision making, which can lead to missed opportunities in maximizing beneficial uses, including the value of hydropower resources. An enhanced forecasting method using a process-based model and spatially distributed wireless sensor data offers more accurate runoff forecasts. In this paper, we assessed the forecasting accuracy of these two forecasting methods by applying them to two tributaries within the North Fork Feather River basin in California. The result shows the enhanced forecasting method having better accuracy than the statistical model. In addition, a hydropower simulation showed a considerable increase in energy value with the enhanced forecasting informing reservoir operations. The investment analysis on applying this method shows an average internal rate of return of 31% across all scenarios, making this forecasting method an attractive way to better inform water-related decisions for hydropower generation in the context of climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of River Hydrology on Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Future Precipitation Scenarios over Italy
Water 2021, 13(10), 1335; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13101335 - 11 May 2021
Viewed by 568
Abstract
To support the development of national adaptation policies and measures addressing climate change impacts over Italy, this work aims to analyze projected changes in mean temperatures and precipitations, and extreme events such as droughts and floods, highlighting some local trends in the different [...] Read more.
To support the development of national adaptation policies and measures addressing climate change impacts over Italy, this work aims to analyze projected changes in mean temperatures and precipitations, and extreme events such as droughts and floods, highlighting some local trends in the different Italian regions that have been little considered to date. The investigations are made on the basis of a set of high-resolution Euro-CORDEX models (horizontal resolution 0.11°, about 12 km) to infer quantitative assessments about the danger of climate changes under three different Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs): business as usual scenario, i.e., without a reduction in green-house gas emissions (RCP 8.5), medium stabilization scenario (RCP 4.5) and mitigation scenario (RCP 2.6). After filtering the models with limited performances in reconstructing the current climate, the multi-model climate change scenarios were characterized by comparing the ensemble mean values computed for the base-line period (1971–2000) with those elaborated for the short- (2021–2050), medium- (2041–2070) and long-term (2071–2100). Two WMO ETCCDI indices were considered to investigate climate extremes: Consecutive Dry Days and extreme precipitations. Despite some uncertainties (related to discrepancies among the models), drought conditions and extreme precipitations will likely exacerbate in the coming decades without mitigation (RCP 8.5). Such conditions will be less critical if partial mitigation actions will be undertaken (RCP 4.5) and are expected to be significantly reduced with decarbonization policies (RCP 2.6). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of River Hydrology on Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Economic Sustainability of Small-Scale Hydroelectric Plants on a National Scale—The Italian Case Study
Water 2021, 13(9), 1170; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13091170 - 23 Apr 2021
Viewed by 449
Abstract
The feasibility of hydroelectric plants depends on a variety of factors: water resource regime, geographical, geological and environmental context, available technology, construction cost, and economic value of the energy produced. Choices for the building or renewal of hydroelectric plants should be based on [...] Read more.
The feasibility of hydroelectric plants depends on a variety of factors: water resource regime, geographical, geological and environmental context, available technology, construction cost, and economic value of the energy produced. Choices for the building or renewal of hydroelectric plants should be based on a forecast of the future trend of these factors at least during the projected lifespan of the system. In focusing on the economic value of the energy produced, this paper examines its influence on the feasibility of hydroelectric plants. This analysis, referred to as the Italian case, is based on three different phases: (i) the economic sustainability of small-scale hydroelectric plants under a minimum price guaranteed to the hydroelectric operator; (ii) an estimate of the incentives for reaching the thresholds of “acceptability” and “bankability” of the investment; (iii) an analysis of the results obtained in the previous phases using a model of the evolution of the electricity price over the 2014–2100 period. With reference to the Italian case, the analysis suggests that, to maintain the attractiveness of the sector, it is necessary to safeguard the access to a minimum guaranteed price. With the current tariff plan, complete sustainability is only achieved for plants with p ≤ 100 kW. For the remaining sizes, investments under current conditions would not be profitable. The extension of minimum guaranteed prices could make new medium-large plants (500–1000 kW) more attractive. The current incentive policy is not effective for the development of plants larger than 250 kW, as systems with lower capital expenditures are preferred. Uncertainty about the evolution of the price of energy over time is a concern for the sector; the use of evolutionary models of technical economic analysis tried to reduce these criticalities, and it was shown that they can be transformed into opportunities. It was also found that profitability due to the growing trend expected for the price of energy cannot be highlighted by a traditional analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of River Hydrology on Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Impact of Prospective Climate Change Scenarios upon Hydropower Potential of Ethiopia in GERD and GIBE Dams
Water 2021, 13(5), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050716 - 06 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1057
Abstract
Ethiopia is growing fast, and the country has a dire need of energy. To avoid environmental damages, however, Ethiopia is looking for green energy polices, including hydropower exploitation, with large water availability (i.e., the Blue Nile, the greatest tributary of Nile river). Besides [...] Read more.
Ethiopia is growing fast, and the country has a dire need of energy. To avoid environmental damages, however, Ethiopia is looking for green energy polices, including hydropower exploitation, with large water availability (i.e., the Blue Nile, the greatest tributary of Nile river). Besides other dams on the Omo river, the GIBE family, Ethiopia is now building the largest hydropower plant of Africa, the GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam), on the Blue Nile river, leading to tensions between Ethiopia, and Egypt, due to potentially conflictive water management. In addition, present and prospective climate change may affect reservoirs’ operation, and this thereby is relevant for downstream water users, population, and environment. Here, we evaluated water management for the GERD, and GIBE III dams, under present, and future hydrological conditions until 2100. We used two models, namely, Poli-Hydro and Poli-Power, to describe (i) hydrological budget, and flow routing and (ii) optimal/maximum hydropower production from the two dams, under unconstrained (i.e., no release downstream besides MIF) and constrained (i.e., with fair release downstream) simulation. We then used climate change scenarios from the reports CMIP5/6 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2100, to assess future hydropower production. Our results demonstrate that the filling phase of the GERD, particularly critical, have optimal filling time of 5 years or so. Stream flows at GERD could be greater than the present ones (control run CR) at half century (2050–2059), but there could be large decrease at the end of century (2090–2099). Energy production at half century may increase, and then decrease until the end of century. In GIBE III discharges would increase both at half century, and at the end of century, and so would energy production. Constrained, and unconstrained simulation provide in practice similar results, suggesting potential for shared water management in both plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of River Hydrology on Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Hydropower Potential of Run of River Schemes in the Himalayas under Climate Change: A Case Study in the Dudh Koshi Basin of Nepal
Water 2020, 12(9), 2625; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12092625 - 19 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1269
Abstract
In spite of the very large hydropower potential given from the melting snow and ice of Himalayas, Nepal’s population has little hydropower production. The high use of fossil fuels and biomasses results in measurable air pollution, even in the mountain areas. Hydropower planning [...] Read more.
In spite of the very large hydropower potential given from the melting snow and ice of Himalayas, Nepal’s population has little hydropower production. The high use of fossil fuels and biomasses results in measurable air pollution, even in the mountain areas. Hydropower planning and implementation, in the face of the changing climate, is therefore paramount important. We focus here on Nepal, and particularly on the Dudh Koshi river basin, with a population of ca. 170,000 people, within an area with large potential for hydropower production. Our main objectives are to (i) preliminarily design a local hydropower grid based on a distributed run of river ROR scheme, and (ii) verify the resilience of the grid against modified hydrology under perspective climate change, until the end of the century. To do so, we set up and tune the Poli-Hydro semi-distributed glacio-hydrological model, mimicking the complex hydrology of the area. We then modify a state of the art algorithm to develop and exploit a heuristic, resource-demand based model, called Poli-ROR. We use Poli-ROR to assess the (optimal) distribution of a number of ROR hydropower stations along the river network, and the structure of the local mini-grids. We then use downscaled outputs from three general circulation models GCMs (RCPs 2.6, 4.5, 8.5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC AR5, to assess the performance of the system under future modified hydrological conditions. We find that our proposed method is efficient in shaping ROR systems, with the target of the largest possible coverage (93%), and of the least price (0.068 € kWh−1 on average). We demonstrate also that under the projected hydrological regimes until 2100, worse conditions than now may occur, especially for plants with small drainage areas. Days with energy shortage may reach up to nf = 38 per year on average (against nf = 24 now), while the maximum daily energy deficit may reach as high as edef% = 40% (against edef% = 20% now). We demonstrate that our originally proposed method for ROR grid design may represent a major contribution towards the proper development of distributed hydropower production in the area. Our results may contribute to improve energy supply, and living conditions within the Dudh Koshi river. It is likely that our approach may be applied in Nepal generally. Impending climate change may require adaptation in time, including the use of other sources which are as clean as possible, to limit pollution. Our Poli-ROR method for grid optimization may be of use for water managers, and scientists with an interest in the design of optimal hydropower schemes in topographically complex catchments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of River Hydrology on Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Hydropower Potential in the Alps under Climate Change Scenarios. The Chavonne Plant, Val D’Aosta
Water 2020, 12(7), 2011; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12072011 - 15 Jul 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1617
Abstract
Present and prospective climate change will likely affect the hydrological cycle in sensitive areas, such as the Alps, thus impacting water-based activities. A most representative example is hydropower production, i.e., exploitation of water to produce energy. In the Italian Alps hydropower is strictly [...] Read more.
Present and prospective climate change will likely affect the hydrological cycle in sensitive areas, such as the Alps, thus impacting water-based activities. A most representative example is hydropower production, i.e., exploitation of water to produce energy. In the Italian Alps hydropower is strictly dependent upon water from snow and ice melt, and both are decreasing in response to global warming. Here, we study the effects of potential climate change scenarios at 2100 upon hydropower production from the Chavonne plant, in Valle d’Aosta region of Italy, a run-of-the-river (ROR) plant taking water from two high altitude glacierized catchments of Val di Cogne, and Valsavarenche. We use Poli-Hydro, a state-of-the-art hydrological model to mimic the hydrological budget of the area, including ice and snow melt share. Projections of the hydrological budget were built until 2100 by means of selected climate change scenarios, under proper downscaling. We used runs of three General Circulation Models (GCMs), EC-Earth, CCSM4, and ECHAM6.0 under three Representative Concentration Pathways RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, and RCP 8.5 from AR5 of IPCC, and of their updated version under four Shared Socio-Economic Pathways SSP1 2.6, SSP2 4.5, SSP3 7.0, and SSP5 8.5 from AR6. We then assessed hydropower production changes against a recent control run CR period (2005–2015). Mean annual flow is estimated at 14.33 m3 s−1 during CR, with ice melt contribution ca. 2%, and snow melt contribution ca. 44%. Ice cover in 2005 was estimated as 19.2 km2, reaching in 2015, 9.93 km2. Mean hydropower production was estimated at 153.72 GWh during the CR. Temperature would largely increase throughout the century (+0.93 °C on average at the half century, +2.45 °C at the end of the century). The ice covered area would be largely depleted (ca. −86%, −94% respectively), with reduced contribution of ice melt (0.23%, <0.1%, respectively) and snow melt (ca. 37%, 33%, respectively). Precipitation would show uncertain patterns, and hence incoming discharge at the plant would erratically vary (−29% to +24% half century, −27% to +59% end of century). Hydropower production displays a large dependence upon monthly discharge patterns, with mostly positive variations (+2.90% on average at half century, +6.95% on average at end of century), with its change driven by exceedance of plant’s capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of River Hydrology on Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop