Hydropower technology offers a clean solution for power generation

Hydropower technology offers a clean solution for power generation

Mountainous regions have enormous hydropower potential that cannot be effectively exploited by traditional technologies.

Figure: Schematic description of the system where the empty truck goes up the mountain to collect the containers filled with water from the recharging site and the truck with the full container goes down the mountain generating electricity. The water is then discharged to the discharge site. Image credit: © Hunt et al., 2022.

Julian Hunt, a researcher from International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and an international group of scientists have jointly developed an innovative hydropower technology based on electric trucks. This innovative technology could offer a flexible and clean solution for the production of electricity in mountainous regions.

In the transition to a highly sustainable future, hydropower is likely to grow in importance as a renewable energy source. Despite its potential, innovation in hydropower technology has slowed over the past century. The traditional techniques used today depend on two connected reservoirs with different water levels where the potential energy of the water has been converted into electricity.

In steep mountainous areas, the potential for generating electricity from a small stream is high. But the hydroelectric potential of these regions remains unused because it needs storage reservoirs, which leads to social and environmental impacts.

A new technology known as Electric Truck Hydropower has been developed by IIASA researcher Julian Hunt and an international team of researchers. It could become a major technique for generating electricity in steep mountainous regions.

The study was published in the journal Energy.

The electric truck’s hydropower would use the current road infrastructure to transport water up the mountain in containers, applying the electric truck’s regenerative brakes to convert the potential energy of the water into electricity and charge the truck’s battery .

In addition, the energy generated could be sold to the grid or used by the truck itself to transport other goods. In addition, Electric Truck Hydropower could co-generate electricity with solar and wind resources or offer energy storage services to the grid.

The ideal system configuration is in mountainous areas with steep roads, where the same electric trucks can be used to generate hydroelectric power from different locations. This increases the chances that water will be available.

Julian Hunt, Research Fellow, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

The suggested technology is an innovative, clean source of electricity that is competitive with conventional wind, solar and hydroelectric power. Cost estimates show that the levelized cost of hydropower per electric truck is $30-100 per MWh, which is significantly cheaper than traditional hydropower at $50-200 per MWh.

In addition, the environmental impacts of electric truck hydroelectricity are considerably lower than those of conventional hydroelectricity.

This technology does not require dams, reservoirs or tunnels, and it does not disturb the natural flow of the river and the passage of fish. The system only requires roads, which already exist, charging and discharging stations similar to small car parks, a grid-connected battery installation and the trucks.

Julian Hunt, Research Fellow, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Analyzing the global reach of this technology, the research group calculated that hydroelectricity by electric truck could produce 1.2 PWh of electricity per year, which is equivalent to approximately 4% of the world’s energy consumption in 2019. The technology could tackle the previously untapped potential of hydropower on steep mountains. ranges. The regions with the greatest potential are the Andes and the Himalayas.

It is an interesting electricity production alternative due to its great flexibility. For example, if a country is in an energy crisis, it can buy several electric trucks to produce hydroelectricity. Once the crisis is over, the trucks can be used to transport goods.

Julian Hunt, Research Fellow, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Journal reference:

Hunt, JD, et al. (2022) Electric Truck Hydropower, a flexible solution for hydroelectricity in mountainous regions. Energy.