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Evaluating the Impact of Water Availability on Grid Configurations

Jan. 6, 2020


The U.S. electric power sector relies heavily on cooling water and hydroelectric power for reliable and consistent operation. The impacts of water scarcity on power sector operations can be quantified using a variety of metrics, including total system production costs, regional energy generation, and regional energy prices.


NREL is using a power systems model to evaluate the impact of water availability and grid configurations, considering region-wide impacts as well as sub-regional responses to capture regional capacity differences and realistic grid connectivity dynamics. Recently, NREL used Eagle to capture multiple climate-forced water availability scenarios across a range of historical and future years.

HPC is critical for this project because each of the project’s 700 individual-year simulations takes about 2 days to generate. The simulations are completed in 6-month chunks, taking about 24 hours each. With traditional computing, run time could take two months. Eagle allows NREL to parallelize the simulations and complete them in about a day.


Researchers believe this work represents the largest set of power system simulations under climate-forced water constraints to date. Additionally, this work rapidly quantified the impacts of water scarcity on power sector operations.

See the Environmental Science and Technology journal article Climate-Water Adaptation for Future U.S. Electricity Infrastructure for more information.