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Lazzaro, Gianluca (2017) Multi-objective optimization of run-of-river hydropower: hydrologic disturbance, stream connectivity and economic profitability. [Tesi di dottorato]

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Abstract (inglese)

Although run-of-river hydropower represents a key source of renewable energy, it cannot prevent stresses on river ecosystems. This is especially true in mountain regions, where the outflow of a plant is placed several kilometres downstream of the intake, inducing the depletion of river reaches of considerable length.
In this thesis, multi-objective optimization is used in the design of the capacity of run-of-river plants to identify optimal trade-offs between contrasting objectives: the maximization of the profitability and the minimization of the impact induced by the plant. The latter is quantified either as the upstream/downstream changes of a set of ecologically-relevant flow metrics, or as the loss of hydrological connectivity in the impacted river reaches.
Optimal plant sizes are devised for several case studies belonging to catchments in Italy and UK.
Results show that the duration of economic optimal design capacity is strongly affected by the nature of the flow regime at the plant intake.
In particular, the analysis emphasizes the important distinction between persistent (reduced variability) and erratic (enhanced variability) streamflow regimes.
Multi-criteria optimization indicates that in persistent regimes a trade-off between profitability and hydrologic impact is achieved reducing the plant capacity below the economic optimum, whereas in erratic regimes distinct trade-offs are available depending on the relative importance of the different flow statistics.
This work also confirms that water abstractions for human exploitation induce ecologically-meaningful and quantifiable impacts on the hydrologic connectivity of altered river reaches, which may limit significantly migratory movements of fish. The application of a probabilistic eco-hydrological model to reproduce the observed immigration rates of Atlantic salmon in a Scottish river shows that limitations of connectivity are more pronounced in years where exceedance probability of relatively high flow is low.
The analyses conducted in this thesis show that residual flows represents a key decision variable to preserve the connectivity of impacted river reaches, and thus should be carefully considered in planning environmental policy actions.
The analytical tools developed in this thesis could provide a clue for evaluating the environmental footprint of run-of-river plants and improve sustainability of energetic exploitation of surface water.

Abstract (italiano)

Sebbene gli impianti idroelettrici ad acqua fluente rappresentino una importante risorsa di energia rinnovabile, non si può affermare che abbiano un impatto trascurabile sugli ecosistemi fluviali. In particolare, nelle regioni montane la restituzione delle acque processate avviene diversi chilometri a valle rispetto alla posizione dell'opera di derivazione, determinando quindi la sottrazione di risorse idriche per tratti considerevoli della rete fluviale.
In questa tesi, si utilizzano tecniche di ottimizzazione multi-obiettivo per stimare la capacità di un impianto ad acqua fluente, cercando di bilanciare due obiettivi contrastanti: la massimizzazione del valore economico e la minimizzazione dell'impatto che tali impianti determinano. L'alterazione indotta sugli ecosistemi è quantificata sia come il cambiamento tra monte e valle della presa di una serie di indicatori idrologici rappresentativi dello stato di salute dell'ecosistema, sia come la perdita di connettività idrologica nel tratto di rete fluviale impattato.
La capacità ottimale è quindi stimata per una serie di casi studio corrispondenti a impianti costruiti, o in via di costruzione, in bacini idrografici in Italia e Regno Unito. I risultati mostrano come la durata della capacità che massimizza l'economia sia influenzata dal regime idrologico naturale alla sezione di presa. In particolare, questo lavoro dimostra come la distinzione tra regimi idrologici persistenti (ridotta variabilità) ed erratici (marcata variabilità) condiziona fortemente le scelte progettuali.
L'ottimizzazione multi-obiettivo indica che un bilanciamento tra economia e impatto idrologico in regimi di tipo persistente sia possibile solamente riducendo la capacità dell'impianto al di sotto di quella che massimizza il solo valore economico. D'altra parte, in regimi di tipo erratico esistono diverse capacità ottimali sulla base della relativa importanza delle diverse statistiche del regime idrologico.
Questo lavoro dimostra inoltre che le sottrazioni di risorsa idrica a fini antropici inducono impatti considerevoli e quantificabili sulla connettività idrologica del tratto fluviale alterato, che a sua volta può rappresentare un ostacolo significativo ai movimenti migratori delle specie fluviali. L'applicazione di un modello eco-idrologico di stampo probabilistico ha poi consentito di riprodurre i flussi migratori a scopi riproduttivi dei salmoni Atlantici in una rete fluviale scozzese, mostrando come le limitazioni di connettività idrologica sono maggiormente pronunciate negli anni in cui è bassa la probabilità di superamento di alti valori di portata.
Le analisi riportate in questa tesi mostrano inoltre che il deflusso minimo vitale rappresenta una variabile decisionale fondamentale al fine di preservare la connettività nei tratti fluviali impattati, e che quindi deve necessariamente essere considerato con particolare cura nella pianificazione di politiche di salvaguardia ambientale.
Gli strumenti analitici sviluppati in questa tesi forniscono quindi spunti interessanti per la valutazione dell'impatto ambientale degli impianti idroelettrici ad acqua fluente e consentono di aumentare la sostenibilità delle opere di sfruttamento energetico delle risorse idriche.

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Tipo di EPrint:Tesi di dottorato
Relatore:Botter, Gianluca
Dottorato (corsi e scuole):Ciclo 29 > Corsi 29 > SCIENZE DELL'INGEGNERIA CIVILE E AMBIENTALE
Data di deposito della tesi:31 Gennaio 2017
Anno di Pubblicazione:31 Gennaio 2017
Parole chiave (italiano / inglese):idroelettrico/hydropower multi-obiettivo/multi-objective connettività/connectivity idrologia/hydrology rinnovabili/renewable progetto/design capacità/capacity profitto/profitability impatto/disturbance sostenibilità/sustainability
Settori scientifico-disciplinari MIUR:Area 08 - Ingegneria civile e Architettura > ICAR/02 Costruzioni idrauliche e marittime e idrologia
Struttura di riferimento:Dipartimenti > Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Edile e Ambientale
Codice ID:10232
Depositato il:03 Nov 2017 14:36
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