Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2013

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Symposium: Risk, Costs & Benefits of Low Carbon Energy Technologies

Room: Ruth   1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Chair(s): Danya McLamb

Sponsored by EBASG

M3-J.1  13:30  The Risk Of Increased GHG Emissions From Hydropower Development In The Brazilian Amazon. Faria F, Jaramillo P*; Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: In the last five years Brazil has started building a series of hydroelectric power plants in the Amazon region to fulfill its growing demand for electricity. Hydropower is expected to continue to play an important role in the Brazilian power generation sector, as 60% of the 56 Gigawatts (GW) of forecasted electricity requirements by 2021 will come from hydropower. The Brazilian Amazon region is the main frontier for this development because of high available potential. Until the 1990s hydropower was seen as renewable energy source with no greenhouse gas emissions. However, in the last decades many studies have addressed the issues related to carbon emissions in reservoirs. The objective of this work is to evaluate the risk of significant releases of greenhouse gases through the development of hydropower projects in the Brazilian Amazon. There are three mechanisms through which greenhouse gases may be released by hydroelectric projects: reservoir emissions due to the decomposition of flooded organic matter, the loss of net primary productivity (NPP) linked with the reservoir creation, and the indirect deforestation associated with the construction and operations of hydroelectric power plants. Several publicly available models will be used to estimate the potential greenhouse gas emissions of seventy-four proposed dams in the Brazilian Amazon. These emissions will then be compared with emissions from other power sources.

M3-J.2  13:50  Large-Scale Biomass Feedstocks: A Potentially Intermittent Renewable Resource with Economic Risk for Biofuel Producers. Morrow WR*, Gopal A; Lawerence Berkeley National Laboratory

Abstract: High cost of technology is seen as the primary barrier to full commercialization of cellulosic biofuels despite broad expectation that once conversion technology breakthroughs occur, policy support is only needed to accelerate cost reductions through “learning by doing” effects. In this study, we hypothesize that droughts pose a significant economic risk to biofuel producers and consumers regardless of the rate at which technology costs fall, especially once biofuels production reaches the upper threshold of biomass feedstock availability. We model a future switchgrass derived cellulosic biorefinery industry in Kansas based on spatially resolute historic (1996 to 2005) weather data, representing a rainfall regime that could reflect drought events predicted to occur throughout the U.S. We find that droughts reduced modeled biorefinery capacity factors, in four years out of 10. Interestingly, we find that two logical strategies to plan for drought; (a) building large biorefineries to source feedstock from a larger area and, (b) storing switchgrass in good production years for use in drought years; are not very effective in reducing drought risks. In conclusion we propose that biofuels be viewed as an intermittent renewable energy source much like solar and wind electricity production, although on a longer-term timeframe.

M3-J.3  14:10  Evaluating Proliferation Resistance of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. Gilmore EA*, Hendrickson P; University of Maryland

Abstract: Nuclear energy can make an important contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Small modular reactors (SMRs), defined as units with a generating capacity of less than 300 MW that are delivered to the site fully assembled, may represent a viable alternative to large reactors since they require smaller initial capitalization, better match existing demand for energy and capacity requirements, may be easier to site and may engender less public opposition. Thus, this configuration opens new opportunities for nuclear energy use, especially in developing countries. However, there has been little effort to evaluate SMR designs, manufacturing arrangements and fuel cycle practices on the risks for proliferation. Here, we evaluate the designs and fuel cycle arrangements, manufacturing and delivery systems, and policy regimes are most likely to result in proliferation resistant SMRs. We start by reviewing the characteristics of existing SMRs. We compare this to a notional SMR with sealed fuel compartment that would not give users access to nuclear materials. In addition, these SMRs would be produced in a “hub and spoke” arrangement with a small number of manufacturing facilities worldwide and end of life recovery of the modules for recycling and disposal. We then apply and adapt a number of existing methods used to evaluate the proliferation resistance for conventional light water reactors to assess the SMRs. Adapting these models, we find that the technological features of SMR systems can reduce the proliferation risks compared to light water reactors, although strong international regimes are required to support this outcome.

M3-J.4  14:30  Electricity and development: A risk based analysis of grid extension and distributed energy resources. Murphy PM*; George Washington University

Abstract: More than 1.3 billion people – 20% of the world’s population - lack access to an electricity grid. Fewer than 4% people and enterprises in the rural developing world are connected to a grid. As energy access is critical for economic development this has huge impacts on current and potential development. There has been much analysis and effort towards determining when and where grid extension or distributed energy resources (DER)are more economical for addressing this challenge, but what all of these analyses lack is an understanding that even where the grid reaches in the developing world it is not reliable. Blackouts are common and lengthy. The trade-off is not necessarily just between bulk grid and DER, but whether both are necessary, affordable and optimal for supporting near term and long term development. This research will (1) provide a brief examination of the importance of electricity for development; (2) review some of the past work in grid power vs. DER; (3) provide some context for the lack of reliability in the developing world’s electricity infrastructure; and finally (3) provide recommendations for modifying grid vs. DER analysis to consider an unreliable grid. Analyses will focus on Northern Uganda using three sites where we are installing kilowatt scale solar-hybrid microgrids.

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