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Journal Paper Accepted: Opportunities for energy-water nexus management in the Middle East and North Africa

by Brian Keare

We are happy to announce that our paper “Opportunities for Energy-Water Nexus management in the Middle East and North Africa”, has been accepted for publication by the academic journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. This study was the result of collaboration between William N. Lubega (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Prof. Amro M. Farid and William W. Hickman (Dartmouth).

Electric power is required to produce, treat, distribute, and recycle water while water is required to generate and consume electricity. Naturally, this energy-water nexus is most evident in multi-utilities that provide electricity and water but still exists when the nexus has distinct organizations as owners and operators. Therefore, the sustainability question that arises from energy-water trade-offs and synergies is very much tied to the potential for economies of scope.


Furthermore, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, multi-utilities are not only common, but also the nexus is particularly exacerbated by the high energy intensity of the water supply due to limited fresh water resources. Several accelerating trends are increasingly stressing the existing supply systems of MENA countries: Increased demand due to population and economic growth, a more extreme and unpredictable climate mostly affecting water supply and power demand, and multiple drivers for more electricity-intensive water and more water-intensive electricity including aging infrastructure and certain regulations and standards. This paper identifies and motivates several opportunities for enhanced integrated operations management and planning in the energy-water nexus in multi-utilities in the MENA.

From the discussion of the coupling points between the energy and water systems and operations management strategies to optimize these coupling points, several policy implementations can be drawn. First, the existing approaches to dispatch of the individual products of power and water could be replaced by integrated energy-water dispatch. Second, existing fixed power and water purchase agreements can be replaced with a seamlessly integrated energy-water dispatch. As in liberalized power systems, multiple time horizon markets with their respective clearing mechanisms would be required so as to provide dynamic incentives for greater cost and resource efficiency.  Fourth, the energy-water nexus also presents coupling points that engage the demand side of both power and water. Carefully designed demand-side management schemes, perhaps in the form of public-private partnerships, could present a vehicle for coordinating these coupling points in a cost-effective fashion.

The report also leads to several central policy implications. First, if water consumption and withdrawal of power generation were monetized, the investment case for renewable energy would inevitably be a stronger one. Next, while reverse osmosis desalination plants limit the energy-intensity of water production, from an integrated systems perspective, multi-stage flash plants provide a coproduction functionality that may be preferred over individual reverse osmosis and power generation facilities. Third, while many water utilities across the region have made extensive efforts towards reducing water leakages, such efforts could be strengthened by considering the embedded energy and the associated economic and environmental cost of these leakages. Lastly, there exists both a necessity and opportunity to reduce the energy footprint of water supply in MENA countries through increased water recycling. Utilizing a decentralized treatment system providing multiple water qualities and treatment levels will allow more opportunities for recycled water use in industry, agriculture, and other areas.

In all, the integrated energy-water nexus planning models and optimization programs presented and cited in this work provide deeper perspectives than their single product alternatives found in the existing literature. Their application in the policy domain has a high potential for future work and extension in the MENA region. Furthermore, these techniques have the potential for use in regions of similar climate (e.g. South-West United States & Australia) or other electricity-water utilities around the globe.

In depth materials on LIINES energy-water nexus research can be found on the LIINES websitte.


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The LIINES’ Steffi Muhanji is featured as a Teaching Assistant in Dartmouth Engineering Magazine

It is as the old saying goes:  “One’s knowledge increases when it is given away.”

It is for this reason that LIINES graduate students are often encouraged to become TA’s as part of the graduate program.  One good example is first  year graduate student is Steffi Muhanji who was recently featured as a Teaching Assistant in an article in Dartmouth Engineering Magazine.    As a Thayer B.E. graduate, Steffi has intimate knowledge of the undergraduate engineering major and has TA’d ENGS 73 (Materials Selection and Processing) under the guidance of Prof. Harold Frost and Prof. Ulrike Wegst.  Steffi is also TA’ing ENGS 22 (Systems) this Fall 2016.

See what Steffi and other Thayer students had to say about the best part, hardest part, and lessons learned of the TA’ing experience.


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Journal Paper Accepted: An A Priori Analytical Method for the Determination of Operating Reserve Requirements

We are happy to announce that our recent paper entitled: “An A Priori Analytical Method for the Determination of Operating Reserve Requirements”, has been accepted at the International Journal of Electrical Power & Energy Systems (IJEPES). This study comes as a result of collaboration between three universities; Masdar Institute, Dartmouth, and MIT. The work is authored by Aramazd Muzhikyan (Masdar Institute), Prof. Amro M. Farid (Dartmouth) and Prof. Kamal Youcef-Toumi (MIT).

As renewable energy becomes an ever present resource in power systems, so called “operating reserves” become increasingly important instruments for reliable power grid operations. One can think of operating reserves as additional generation capacity scheduled to compensate for real-time power supply and demand imbalances due to the existing uncertainties in forecasting not just demand but also renewable energy. On the one hand, the amount of operating reserves should be sufficient to successfully mitigate the real-time imbalances and maintain power system reliable operations. On the other hand, operating reserves are a costly commodity and they should not exceed the minimum required amount to avoid unnecessary expense. This makes accurate assessment of the operating reserve requirements vital for reliable, economic, and environmentally friendly operation of the power grid.

Currently, the necessary amount of the operating reserves is assessed based upon the power system operator experiences and the assumption that the circumstances of power system operations remain relatively unchanged. However, growing integration of renewable energy sources (RES), implementation of demand side management and transportation electrification alter the overall structure and the dynamics of the power grid. High penetration of RES brings new levels of variability and uncertainty to the grid which challenges the established practices of power system operations and the operating reserve requirement assessment methods. This newly published article provides closed-form analytical formulae that tells grid planners how much reserves to procure as they plan for more renewable energy without sacrificing economics or reliability.

While RES integration can potentially reduce the grid’s CO2 emissions and operating costs, it also brings new challenges that power grid operators need to address in order to maintain reliable operations. Wind power, for example, is known to have high intermittency; that is, the output power of a wind turbine may vary uncontrollably in a wide range. This, combined with comparably low wind forecasting accuracy, requires careful scheduling of traditional power plants and their operating reserves. Integration of solar power, on the other hand, has its own challenges. As shown in the figure below, the net load profile (the power demand minus the solar generation) of a system with integrated solar generation has a distinctive profile. It is often called the “Duck Curve” for its resemblance to the side-profile of a duck. The figure presents the net load profiles of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) for the day of March 31 for forecasted from 2014 to 2020. The “belly” of the curve corresponds to the day time when the solar generation is at its maximum and is expected to grow with new solar power installations. With an estimated demand of 22,000MW in the year 2020, the solar generation accounts for 10,000MW or 45%; leaving only 12,000MW for the traditional generation. This situation increases the risk of overgeneration and solar generation curtailment. Another challenge is the steep jump of the net load around 6pm as solar generation wanes with the sunset and demand picks up for evening home life. Such severe variations of the net load require more careful consideration of the ramping capabilities of the scheduled generation.


The CAISO duck chart (source: P. Denholm, M. O’Connell, G. Brinkman, and J. Jorgenson, “Overgeneration from Solar Energy in California: A Field Guide to the Duck Chart,” National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Nov. 2015)

This publication has developed analytical formulae for calculation of the requirements for each type of operating reserves; namely, load following, ramping and regulation. The derivations show that the operating reserve requirements are effectively defined by a set of dimensionless parameters related to the RES characteristics and the operations of the power grid. Those parameters are the penetration level, renewable energy capacity factor, variability, day-ahead and short-term forecast errors of the integrated RES, and the power grid day-ahead scheduling and real-time balancing time steps. Such analytical expressions reveal how the requirements of each type of reserve will change when, for instance, more renewable energy is integrated, renewable energy forecasting accuracy is improved, and the day-ahead scheduling time step is reduced. This study show that higher RES variability significantly increases the requirements of all three types of reserves. Also, while the impact of the RES forecast error on the ramping reserve requirement is negligible, its impact on the load following and regulation reserve requirements can dominate that of the variability. On the other hand, reducing the day-ahead scheduling time step can mitigate the impact of the variability on the load following reserve requirement while having negligible impact on the ramping and regulation reserve requirements. Also, changing the balancing time step has no noticeable impact on the load following reserve requirement, it has opposing impacts on the ramping and regulation reserve requirements. Reducing the balancing time step reduces the regulation reserve requirement but increases the ramping reserve requirement.

These formulae can be used for renewable energy integration studies, such as those conducted in NE-ISO and PJM-ISO, to assess the required amount of reserves for the planned RES installation. They can also be adapted by the state and federal standards organizations to establish reserve procurement standards that reflect the evolution of the power grid.

In depth materials on LIINES smart power grid research can be found on the LIINES website.


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The LIINES Commitment to Open-Information

 Good science is reproducible.   This means that it must be publicly available, its contributions transparently communicated, and its data accessible.  These are principles that drive the everyday work of every individual’s research at the LIINES.  We now wish to go further and make a commitment to Open-Information.
Beginning today, the LIINES will seek to leverage its website to make all of its research 100% reproducible by the public at large.   This includes:
  • Sharing all input datasets used to conduct the research for which no prior proprietary or security commitments have been made.
  • Producing scientific publications in such a way that scientific peers can accurately verify & validate the work.
  • Making the content of all conference, journal and book-chapter publications freely available in author preprint form.  (Note: Most publishers allow self-archiving and open-distribution of author preprints).
We believe that the LIINES’ research has broad applicability to academia, industry, government and the public at large.   However, traditional publication venues are often only subscribed by academic universities and a handful of well-funded industrial companies.   All-too-often the people that can benefit from this work, never get a chance to see it.   This slows down the work’s potential impact and is counter to the LIINES mission.   It is for these reasons, that the LIINES makes its Open-Information commitment.
While it is natural that making all of this information available will take some time, we will be sure to keep blogging to keep you up to date of new additions to the LIINES website.  For now, feel free to visit the LIINES Datasets Repository which includes both data from our publications as well as a collation of several relevant and openly available datasets.
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Energy-Water-Food Nexus Research Integral to the IEEE Smart Cities Conference

In addition to its overall success, the IEEE Smart Cities Conference also presented significant research on the Energy-Water-Food Nexus.
On Monday, a two-hour energy-water nexus special session was held featuring multiple aspects of LIINES research.
  • The presentation entitled “Extending the Energy-Water Nexus Reference Architecture to the Sustainable Development of Agriculture, Industry  & Commerce.” provided a high level overview of the types of couplings that exist not just within the energy and water infrastructure but also within end-uses in the agricultural, industrial, commercial, and residential sectors.  Water and energy balance principles were used to systematically highlight the existence of trade-off decisions with the energy-water nexus.
  • The presentation entitled “Extending the Utility Analysis and Integration Model at the Energy Water Nexus” featured LIINES research done in collaboration with the Water Environment Foundation (WEF).   This work argued the need for integrated enterprise management systems within the water utility sector to support sustainable decision-making.
  • The presentation entitled “The Role of Resource Efficient Decentralized Wastewater Treatment in Smart Cities” featured LIINES research done in collaboration with the German startup Ecoglobe.  This work argued the need for resource-efficient decentralized wastewater treatment facilities as a key enabling technology in the energy-water-food nexus.  It then presented Ecoglobe’s WaterbaseTM as such a technology.
On Wednesday, a three hour workshop entitled “Smart Food at the University of Guadalajara (UDG)”  was lead by Diana Romero and Prof. Victor Larios.   It featured the university’s efforts to bring hydroponic farming to future cities.  The workshop also highlighted the UDG’s collaboration with the MIT Media Laboratory’s City Farm Initiative.
Both sessions drew participation of 40-50 conference attendees and active dialogue during the Q&A sessions.  It is clear that a smart city — by all definitions — is one that actively manages the supply and demand for energy, water, and food as an integral activity.   These two sessions demonstrated this need and looks to become a central theme within the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative and its flagship international conferences.

A full reference list of energy-water nexus research at the LIINES can be found on the LIINES publication page:  http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/liines

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IEEE Smart Cities Conference Establishes Itself as Premier Conference

Several days ago, we wrote a blog post to announce the beginning of the First IEEE Smart Cities Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico.   Now that the conference draws to a close, we can firmly say that the conference by all measures has been a tremendous success.  The conference had over 500 registered participants drawing from academia, industry, and government — fully in agreement with the triple-helix model of innovation.  From industry, dozens attended from IBM and Intel alone.   The conference also benefited from the presence of the Governor of Jalisco, The Honorable, Aristóteles Sandoval, as well as several generous industrial sponsors.
The conference also distinguished itself for its focus on civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and innovation.   Aside from the ample opportunity for networking and lively conversation, the conference featured a “Student Hackathon”.   For two days, student teams were challenged to develop, in real-time, cloud-based Smart City Apps on iOS and Android platforms.  The winning teams developed apps for smart transportation, healthcare, and community service and won monetary prizes of 500 & 1000USD.  The LIINES wishes these teams all the best as they form small businesses to bring their apps to the market.
With such participation, and despite the landfall of Hurricane Patricia only 24 hours earlier, it is clear that the First International IEEE Smart Cities Conference has established itself as a premier international conference and the flagship of the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative.  Please do stay tuned for announcements for the 2nd International IEEE Smart Cities Conference to be held in the idyllic mountain city of Trento, Italy in September 2016.  Interested readers can join the IEEE Smart City Initiative and its associated LinkedIn group.
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Searching for Smart City LIINES

Today, Monday October 26th 2015, the first International Smart Cities Conference begins in Guadalajara, Mexico and will continue until Wednesday October 28th.  It is the premier annual conference sponsored by the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative.  Smart Cities are innovative, conceptual, and city-wide technology-human-infrastructure integration platforms.  The conference brings a broad perspective to Smart Cities drawing from a variety of disciplines.  This is evidenced by its 9 tracks including:
  1. Smart Grids
  2. Internet of Things (IoT)
  3. Smart Homes & Buildings
  4. Smart Transport
  5. Smart Environment,
  6. Smart Manufacturing & Logistics
  7. Open Data
  8. Smart Health
  9. Smart Citizens
Here, at the LIINES, the concept of Smart Cities is one to which we have been paying attention for quite some time.  Naturally, with the four research themes of Smart Power Grids, Energy-Water Nexus, Transportation-Electrification Systems, and Industrial Energy Management, we believe that the LIINES has a lot to contribute to the development of intelligent infrastructure in cities of the future.   Prof. Amro M. Farid has been nominated to the IEEE Smart Cities Conference steering committee and also serves as the Workshop & Tutorials co-chair.  He is also track chair for the Smart Grids track to be held all day today.
Interested readers can join the IEEE Smart City Initiative and its associated LinkedIn group.   Additionally, the conference organizers will be live-tweeting on Twitter #IEEESmartCities, #ISC2.  Join us in the developing the Smart Cities of the Future.
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The All-New Dartmouth LIINES Website

In  a recent blogpost, we wrote how the LIINES is moving to Darmouth.  Naturally, when a lab moves so does its website!   The new LIINES website will now be found at http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/liines but will continue to be mirrored at the original MIT website (http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu) in recognition of our continued collaborative research there.
We look forward to updating the LIINES website to reflect the lab’s continued development.
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The LIINES seeks Quantitatively-Minded Dartmouth Undergrad for Smart Grid Research Competition

The LIINES seeks 1-2 quantitatively-minded Dartmouth undergrads for participation in a smart grid research competition.  This work is a direct extension of our prior work in the smart power grid research theme.   The competition involves multi-agent system negotiation techniques as applied to power system operations and management.  The work can serve as part of a senior thesis or an undergraduate research opportunity.
The successful student(s) will be driven by a sincere interest in the smart grid field and have an affinity to object-oriented programming.   Engineering science or computing science majors are preferred although preparations in heavily computational disciplines such as physics, applied mathematics, and economics are welcome.  A prior portfolio in an object-oriented programming language is required.  C++ is specifically preferred.   More senior undergraduate students are preferred although initiative, interest, and programming fluency will be the determining criteria.

Interested students may contact Prof. Amro M. Farid for further information and an interview. 

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The LIINES is moving to Dartmouth

After four years at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the Laboratory for Intelligent Integrated Networks of Engineering Systems is moving to the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth!  The move comes as Amro M. Farid assumes his new appointment as an Associate Professor of Engineering at the Thayer School.
As one of the prestigious Ivy League universities, Dartmouth is consistently ranked amongst America’s top dozen universities.  Moreover, the Thayer School of Engineering has several features that when taken together make a well-customized home for the LIINES.   It:
As the LIINES makes its move to Dartmouth, its important to reflect upon some of its achievements in the last four years.  From its initial focus on smart power grids, it’s research program has expanded to address the application of control, automation and information technology to intelligent energy systems.  This has meant the development of three additional research themes namely:
These efforts have lead to several notable outputs.  In research publications, these include 17 journal papers since January 2014 with an average impact factor of 3.874, 2 books, 4 book chapters and 43 conference papers.  In teaching, two new courses were developed ESM 501 System Architecture and ESM 616 Techno-Economic Analysis in Power System Operations.  We are happy that students at the Masdar Institute consistently rated both of these courses highly.  The LIINES has also increasingly taken on an international profile with active leadership in the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS) Technical Committee on Smart Grids, the IEEE Systems, Man & Cybernetics (SMC) Society Technical Committee on Intelligent Industrial Systems, and the Council of Engineering System Universities (CESUN).
Of course, the LIINES’s productivity is largely due to its students.  And so this is also a moment to recognize their hard work and dedication.  This began with the 2013 cohort  Apoorva Santhosh, Reshma Francy, Reem Al Junaibi, Aramazd Muzhikyan continued to William Lubega in 2014 and more recently Deema Allan, Wester Schoonenberg, and Halima Abdulla.  Thanks to the support of Prof. Kamal Youcef-Toumi, their MIT student colleagues Hussein Abdelhalim, Fang-Yu Liu, and Bo Jiang have also been instrumental in fostering a collaborative international atmosphere despite the time zone hurdles.  Each of these students has made strong research contributions to the growth of the lab and have gone on to successful careers beyond graduation.
Going forward, the LIINES will continue to work in the intelligent energy systems area as part of the Thayer School’s commitment to energy and complex systems.   That said, the LIINES members at Masdar will remain as such and will continue their research in the spirit of international collaboration as their MIT student colleagues have done in the past.  Dr. Toufic Mezher, Professor of Engineering Systems & Management has kindly agreed to coordinate the LIINES student members as they complete their degrees.   Naturally, we will also continue to  collaboration with the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department and more specifically Prof. Kamal Youcef-Toumi, the Mechatronics Research Laboratory and the Center for Clean Water & Energy.
We’re looking forward to an exciting new 2015-16 academic year at the LIINES.  Stay tuned for more!
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