Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
E&S-3: Power plants and electricity production
Wednesday, 26/Jun/2019:
8:00am - 9:30am

Session Chair: Nicole Alyssa Ryan
Location: Hawthorne/Sellwood

8:00am - 8:20am

Life Cycle Analysis Platform to Understand the Energy System Transformation

Emre Gencer1, Sarah Torkamani2, Francis O'Sullivan1

1MIT Energy Initiative, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139, US; 2ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, Annandale, NJ 08801, United States

The global energy system is undergoing a major transformation. The world faces a dual challenge of meeting increasing energy demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This change is characterized by the convergence of power, transportation, and industrial sectors, and the surge of multi-sectoral integration. Understanding the implications of these dynamics is challenging and requires a holistic approach to provide systems-level insights. To address this need, we have developed a systems-level life cycle analysis (LCA) framework that is designed to explore the emissions impacts of relevant technological, operational, temporal, and geospatial characteristics of the evolving energy system.

The tool is built as a MATLAB app that encapsulates MATLAB models, databases, and integrated process simulations. A modular framework constitutes the underlying analytical engine that covers all life stages of major energy conversion pathways. The underlying analytical engine includes the cradle-to-grave life stages of major energy conversion routes and covers more than 900 individual pathways. Detailed process simulation capabilities have been incorporated for in-depth analysis of greenhouse gas emission sources such as power plants and selected chemical conversion pathways. In addition to performing conventional LCA, we have implemented models for vehicle fleet and electric power systems to analyze systems-level interactions. By executing the analysis with embedded fleet models, we can establish a basis for the accurate assessment of the life cycle implications arising from complex system-level restructuring. The presentation will focus on the overview of the tool, the modeling approach, as well as the results of case studies. We will demonstrate how the changes in the operational variability of fossil fired power plants impacts system-wide emissions.

8:20am - 8:40am

Developing a Performance Response Surface For Fossil Fuel-fired Power Plants Under A Changing Climate

Aviva Loew, Paulina Jaramillo, Haibo Zhai, Rahim Ali

Carnegie Mellon University, United States of America

Thermoelectric power supply depends on the thermodynamics governing power plant operations. Climate change introduces an uncertain risk to power plant operations as ambient conditions potentially constrain generation, primarily via cooling system limitations. Previous studies aiming to quantify this risk have suggested a wide range of results, from minimal to disastrous capacity loss. In this analysis, we use power plant modeling software to study how a variety of power plant configurations respond to varying meteorological conditions. We develop predictive tools that enable projections of power plant operating impacts for a spectrum of geographic situations and technological configurations. Finally, we apply these equations towards power fleets to examine how climate scenarios may affect power capacity. Our results allow for simpler forecasting of capacity loss given ambient conditions, for both individual plants and fleet-wide analysis, and our results also highlight potential regions of risk.

8:40am - 9:00am

Using Economic Input-Output LCA for Construction Impacts of Thermoelectric Power Plants

Derrick Carlson1, Ben Young2, Gregory Cooney1, Timothy John Skone3

1Contractor to U.S. DOE, NETL, United States of America; 2Eastern Research Group; 3U.S. DOE, NETL, United States of America

The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is expanding the level of resolution of power plant construction materials to enable an in-depth understanding of construction differences between thermoelectric power plant configurations. Economic Input Output (EIO) life cycle analysis (LCA) is used to rapidly estimate the environmental impacts of construction in the electric power sector. EIO serves as a quick and reliable way to screen for construction impacts and perform hot-spot analyses. This modeling effort is only possible because of the availability of high quality, detailed NETL cost data, as well as the EPA’s up-to-date U.S. Environmentally Extended Input-Output (USEEIO) model.

This presentation will outline how this modeling can be used for hot-spot analysis, pointing future research efforts to specific high-impact portions of construction processes. The hot-spots identified in this effort can undergo additional screening through more rigorous efforts such as processed based LCAs or the use of proprietary or third-party data. Using coal and natural-gas fired power plants as a case study, this presentation can begin to answer an important research question: with EIO models, how does one identify the need for additional resources to achieve accurate environmental accounting?

Using detailed component-level cost estimates for new fossil power plants as documented in Cost and Performance Baseline for Fossil Energy Plants Volume 1a: Bituminous Coal (PC) and Natural Gas to Electricity Revision 3, we estimate economic demands for the construction of a power plant and the manufacturing of its components. This provides a basis for final demands to use in the model. The model produces national average construction impact results for the life cycle of a power plant. This output highlights areas of further research that help to define valuable data collection efforts.

This effort will outline the difference in capital costs and operational costs and how these were accounted for in this work. Significant effort is expended to generate component-level cost estimates for techno-economic assessments (TEA) of power systems. However, these cost estimates are often developed using vendor quotes, which include profits, as opposed to producer prices, which form the basis of most EIO models. This presentation will describe an approach for using BEA Consumer Price Index data to ensure the proper accounting of producer price data. Outlining this difference in data and modeling is important for validating this work and ensuring that future work handles capital costs appropriately. While LCAs often use the inputs and outputs from a TEA, this approach shows the value that can be gained by also using the detailed cost estimate in the context of EEIO.


National Energy Technology Laboratory. (2015). Cost and Performance Baseline for Fossil Energy Plants Volume 1a: Bituminous Coal (PC) and Natural Gas to Electricity Revision 3.Morgantown, WV: Department of Energy.

9:00am - 9:20am

Assessment of tradeoffs in human-generated power using electricity-generating exercise bikes

San Rotter1, Andrew Berardy2

1IEEE, United States of America; 2Arizona State University, United States of America

During exercise to maintain fitness or lose weight, people expend energy which is generally lost. However, modified exercise equipment such as an electricity-generating stationary bike (EGSB) can capture that energy. In “Green Gym” settings, these bikes can offset the power needed for lighting and cooling the facility, providing quantifiable greenhouse gas emissions savings. In non-electrified areas of the world, EGSBs may provide power for lighting, providing additional time people may use for activities including studying and bookkeeping after dark. Despite these potential benefits, the manufacturing of the bikes and the inverters required to utilize the power generated by the bikes creates greenhouse gas and other emissions. Therefore, the question arises of whether use phase benefits outweigh the environmental impacts of manufacturing and maintaining the bikes. We propose to use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Sustainable Return on Investment (S-ROI) techniques to help answer this question.

LCA requires definition of the functional units used for comparison so that environmental impacts are considered between options that are justifiably similar in functionality. We consider two distinct pairs of scenarios in this analysis that necessitate the use of two functional units, as the purpose of the activity differs substantially between use for exercise and use for providing electricity in a non-electrified area. In the case of S-ROI, we consider scenarios to determine if there will be net positive societal impacts to offset the initial cost and externalities of the EGSB’s through increased availability of lighting and potential for higher salary compared to a baseline case without use of an EGSB.

In the context of a Green Gym, we define the functional unit to be the activity of using a stationary bike for exercise for one hour. We assume that the rider would maintain the same behaviors regardless of whether or not the bike generates electricity during use. In the context of the non-electrified area, we will consider the business as usual case with no bike and the alternative with the power generating bike. In this case, we examine two scenarios for each, including food security and food scarcity. It is assumed that while food production is not changed as a result, the biker will either have sufficient food so that the exercise will improve health or that they will have insufficient food and the exercise will have negative consequences for their health. Finally, we will consider the tradeoffs in health impacts that may result from opportunities by utilizing after dark lighting to advance education and employment opportunities and thereby increase income.

This study will provide conclusions regarding the potential benefit of the installation of electricity-generating bikes in Green Gyms, including the payback period necessary before the modifications to the bikes can be considered greenhouse gas emissions neutral. It will also provide conclusions regarding whether electricity generating bikes are expected to be a net benefit to rural non-electrified areas.