H. Koch, Ana Lígia Chaves Silva, J. G. Azevedo
Mar 13, 2018
Regional Environmental Change
Many renewable resources for the generation of electricity, such as hydropower and wind power, are dependent on climatic factors. Reservoirs have been created to overcome the stochastic nature of river flows and to make water supply more reliable. However, reservoirs are affecting the ecological status of river ecosystems, e.g., by modifying the flow regime, triggering discussions regarding the discharge of reservoirs. In Brazil’s northeast region, the installed capacity for wind power generation has increased substantially in recent years. Setting up a modeling system for simulating wind power and hydropower generation in this study, it is analyzed whether wind power generation, peaking in the dry season, can help to achieve a more environmentally oriented flow regime in the Sub-middle and Lower São Francisco River Basin. Simulated higher discharges from reservoirs during the rainy season and lower discharges during the dry season, representing a more natural flow regime, will reduce hydropower generation in the dry season. Under recent conditions, the resulting gap in electricity generation can only be partially covered by wind power. A large share needs to be generated by thermal power plants or be imported from other regions in Brazil. The planned future increase in installed wind power capacity can change this picture; the demand for electricity generated by thermal power plants and imported will decrease. Adopting an integrated approach for hydropower and wind power generation, the flow regime in the Sub-middle and Lower São Francisco River Basin can be modified to improve the ecological status of the river system.