Theses Doctoral

Analyses of Energy Infrastructure Serving a Dense Urban Area: Opportunities and Challenges for Wind Power, Building Systems and Distributed Generation

Waite, Michael

This dissertation describes methodologies for evaluating a set of anticipated and recommended energy infrastructure changes essential to achieving deep greenhouse gas emissions reductions in a dense urban area: Deep penetration of grid-connected wind power, widespread adoption of electric heat pumps, multiple potential services from extensive deployment of distributed generation, and increasing focus on auxiliary energy in heating and cooling systems as cities continue to grow in population and height. The focus of the research presented here was New York City and the surrounding New York State electricity supply infrastructure. After developing a wind power model based on an NREL model wind data set, a linear program model showed that after passing a low-curtailment threshold of 10 GW, energy-related wind power curtailment is driven largely by continuous operation of baseload generation and misalignment of winter wind power peaks and existing summer electricity demand peaks. Separate analyses showed the potential for increase wind-generated electricity utilization through increased use of heat pumps in New York City.

A suite of models was developed to assess the zonal effects in New York City of deep statewide penetration of wind power and widespread adoption of electric heat pumps in New York City. New York City was found to have highly fluctuating net loads in deep wind penetration scenarios. Further, with large amounts of existing space heating demand replaced by heat pumps, the increased winter electricity demand peaks occurred infrequently enough that the additional generation capacity required to meet those loads would have a capacity factor well less than 1%. Small-scale, natural gas-fueled internal combustion engines deployed as distributed generation were shown to improve the ability of the system to respond to load fluctuations, to be a more economical option than new large centralized generators at the low capacity factor, and to reduce overall system gas usage due to mitigating part-load effects and startup fuel requirements. This distributed generation, which could in reality also include combined heat and power systems as well as battery storage standing alone, connected to rooftop solar or in electric vehicles, also has potential system resilience benefits.

The last research effort described here included long-term monitoring of a high-rise mixed use building’s hydronic system before and after a retrofit of hydraulic equipment. Significant annual reductions of 40% energy usage for pumping were computed, primarily due to part-load flow control effects. Analysis of the monitoring data, as well as computations related to theoretical performance of hydraulic networks, showed that this approach also has potential to reduce peak loads, particularly in high-rise buildings.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Modi, Vijay
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 1, 2016