The need to ease pressure from the depleting fossil fuel reserves coupled with the rising global energy demand has seen a drastic increase in research and uptake of renewable energy sources in recent decades. Of the commonly exploited renewable energy resources, hydropower is currently the most popular resource accounting for 17% of the world's total energy generation, a portion which translates to 85% of the renewable energy share. However, despite the huge potential, hydropower is dependent on the availability of water resource, which is affected by climate change. During wet seasons, hydropower system operators are faced with a deluge of floods which results in excess power generation and spillage. The situation reverses in dry seasons where system operators are compelled to curtail power generation because of low water levels in the hydro reservoirs. The later situation is more pronounced in drought prone regions such as Southern Africa where some hydropower plants are completely shut down in dry seasons due to water shortage.
This dissertation focuses on the application of optimal control to hydropower plants with pumpback retrofits powered by on-site hydrokinetic and wind power systems. The first section of this work develops an optimal operation strategy for a high head hydropower plant retrofitted with hydrokinetic-powered cascaded pumpback system in dry season. The objective of pumpback operation is to recycle a part of the downstream discharged water back to the main dam to maintain a high water level required for optimal power generation. The problem is formulated as a discrete optimisation problem to simultaneously minimise the grid pumping energy demand, minimise the wear and tear associated with the switching frequency of the two pumps in cascade, maximise restoration of the reservoir volume through pumpback operation and maximise the use of on-site generated hydrokinetic power for pumping operation. Simulation results based on a practical case study show the pumping energy saving advantages of the cascaded pumping system as compared to a classical pumped storage (PS) system.
The second section of this work develops an optimal control system for assessing the effects of ecological flow constraints to the operation of a hydropower plant with a hydrokinetic-wind powered pumpback retrofit. The aim of the control law in this case is to use the allocated water to optimally meet the contractual obligations of the power plant. The problem is formulated as a discrete optimisation problem to maximise the energy output of the reservoir subject to some defined technical and hydrological constraints. In this system, pumping power is met primarily by the wind power generator output supplemented by the on-site generated hydrokinetic power. The excess hydrokinetic power is exported to the grid to meet the committed demand. Three different optimisation scenarios are developed: The first scenario is the baseline operation of the hydropower plant without any intervention. The second scenario incorporates the hydrokinetic-wind-powered pumpback operation in the optimal control policy. The third scenario includes the downstream flow constraint to the optimal control policy of the second optimisation scenario. Simulation results based on a practical case study show that ecological flow constraints have negative effects to the economic performance of a hydropower plant.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2017.