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Water footprint of hydroelectricity: a case study for two hydropower plants in the Tocantins river basin of Brazil

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2016 ASABE Annual International Meeting  162460830.(doi:10.13031/aim.20162460830)
Authors:   Clívia Dias Coelho, Demetrius David da Silva, Gilberto Chohaku  Sediyama, Michel Castro Moreira , Silvio Bueno Pereira, Ângela Maria Quintão Lana
Keywords:   Hydroelectric dams, Lake evaporation, Renewable energy, Water consumption.

Abstract. It has been widely debated whether the use of water in hydropower production is simply non-consumptive or if there is effective removal of water from watercourses. The water footprint provides a basis for discussion on the allocation of water and issues related to sustainable, fair and efficient use. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to characterize the water footprint of the Tucuruí and Lajeado hydropower plants (HPPs), located in the Tocantins river basin, Brazil. The water footprint of hydropower was evaluated by three different methods, based on the electricity production of the HPP and monthly and annual evaporation rates estimated according to Penman`s method. The first water footprint method (WF-1) considers only the gross water consumption by the HPPs;; the second method (WF-2) considers the net water consumption, discounting what would be lost by evapotranspiration in the area previous to the construction of the reservoir; and the third method (WF-3) accounts the net water balance. The results demonstrated that the estimates of average annual water footprint for the Tucuruí reservoir, using the WF-1, WF-2 and WF-3 methods were respectively 49 m3/GJ, 26 m3/GJ and -21 m3/GJ, while for Lajeado these estimates were 95 m3/GJ, 48 m3/GJ and 21 m3/GJ. The mean area of the reservoir per unit of installed capacity of Tucuruí HPP is 34 ha/MW, while for Lajeado this value reaches 70 ha/MW, which explains Tucuruí`s greater water efficiency.

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