Brattle economists recently submitted comments in response to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Request for Information (RFI) on new research to maximize the value of hydropower’s contribution to grid resiliency and reliability today and into the future.

The comments address hydropower participation in the current operations landscape. Specifically, the authors provide background information on the value of hydro plants, a discussion of market rules and software challenges and limitations, optimized energy and ancillary services market performance, additional benefits from making hydro plants more flexible, and transmission congestion relief.

The authors’ comments derive from their recent study that examines flexible hydro resources in wholesale power markets and finds that improving operations practices and market rules may be able to enhance the value of these resources by 200% to 500%.

The DOE’s RFI seeks to gather insight into economic, policy, and technological barriers, inform future hydropower technology development, and improve the tools by which investment and operational decisions are made. It aims to address five key topics, including: 1) the most effective way to produce techno-economic analysis of the value of pumped storage hydropower at two sites; 2) hydropower capability, operations impacts, and costs; 3) a complete understanding of hydropower participation in the current energy landscape; 4) forecasted future system conditions and subsequent effects on hydropower resources; and 5) the extent and focus areas of future research, including the importance of financing models and international engagements.

The comments, filed by Brattle economists Pablo Ruiz, James Read, Johannes Pfeifenberger, Judy Chang, and Roger Lueken, are available for download below.