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Managing Water Shortages in the Western Electricity Grids



British Columbia’s electricity grid is comprised primarily of hydroelectric generating assets. The ability to store water in reservoirs is a significant advantage for the province allowing it to import from Alberta when prices are favourable. Alberta, has a heavily fossil-fuel based electricity portfolio, but has seen substantial growth in its wind energy capacity. However this variable energy technology impacts the province’s grid operations. Wind energy is both variable and uncertainty. However, wind energy in Alberta can be stored via BC’s reservoir systems. In this paper, we examine the extent that drought impacts the both overall operating costs as well as the cost of reducing CO2 emissions. We model the Alberta and BC interconnected grids varying both the impact of the drought and the transmission capacity between the provinces. We determine that storing wind energy leads to an overall cost reduction and that emission costs are between $20 and $60 per tonne of CO2.

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