Assessing the Sun: A Scenario Analysis Weaves Solar Power with Hydroelectric in South America

As many experts have discussed, the road to sustainable energy must be paved with multiple different types of renewable resources. Elio Cuneo,an electrical engineer and Chair of Energy Management and Administration at the Universidad Santa Maria in Venezuela, tackled this conundrum in his white paper, titled: "Water and sun, certainty and volatility: Ideal Pairing for Electricity Supply in SIC."

Sistema Interconectado Central (SIC), which stands for Central Interconnected System in Spanish, is the main alternating current power grid in Chile. In July 2008 a solar measurement station with a tracking system was installed in the north of Chile. The objective of these measurements was to research the potential of global and direct radiation for a possible use of the solar power in the north of Chile for energy efficient production in SIC, which largely relies on hydroelectric power.

Cuneo ran stochastic models using Palisade's @RISK software, and found that including solar power generation represents the equivalent of a “rain” insurance for the SIC system, especially for hydroelectric plants that operate with reservoirs; in fact, having a high certainty of solar power generation is particularly relevant during drought scenarios.

In non-drought conditions, solar energy would also be beneficial; water is stored, leading to lower operation costs and lower spot market prices. Cuneo goes on to explain, "as the benefit is received by end-users as well as by hydroelectric plants with reservoir capacity, the cost of this “insurance” must be prorated between all of them", in order to make solar technology development financially attractive.

Read the white paper here.

See also: As Hydropower Moves to Small Dams, Big Dams use Risk Analysis Solutions to Meet Energy Conservation Goals

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