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Title: Wetland Water Cooling Partnership: The Use of Constructed Wetlands to Enhance Thermoelectric Power Plant Cooling and Mitigate the Demand of Surface Water Use

Through the Phase I study segment of contract #DE-NT0006644 with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, Applied Ecological Services, Inc. and Sterling Energy Services, LLC (the AES/SES Team) explored the use of constructed wetlands to help address stresses on surface water and groundwater resources from thermoelectric power plant cooling and makeup water requirements. The project objectives were crafted to explore and develop implementable water conservation and cooling strategies using constructed wetlands (not existing, naturally occurring wetlands), with the goal of determining if this strategy has the potential to reduce surface water and groundwater withdrawals of thermoelectric power plants throughout the country. Our team’s exploratory work has documented what appears to be a significant and practical potential for augmenting power plant cooling water resources for makeup supply at many, but not all, thermoelectric power plant sites. The intent is to help alleviate stress on existing surface water and groundwater resources through harvesting, storing, polishing and beneficially re-using critical water resources. Through literature review, development of conceptual created wetland plans, and STELLA-based modeling, the AES/SES team has developed heat and water balances for conventional thermoelectric power plants to evaluate wetland size requirements, water use, and comparative cooling technology costs.more » The ecological literature on organism tolerances to heated waters was used to understand the range of ecological outcomes achievable in created wetlands. This study suggests that wetlands and water harvesting can provide a practical and cost-effective strategy to augment cooling waters for thermoelectric power plants in many geographic settings of the United States, particularly east of the 100th meridian, and in coastal and riverine locations. The study concluded that constructed wetlands can have significant positive ancillary socio-economic, ecosystem, and water treatment/polishing benefits when used to complement water resources at thermoelectric power plants. Through the Phase II pilot study segment of the contract, the project team partnered with Progress Energy Florida (now Duke Energy Florida) to quantify the wetland water cooling benefits at their Hines Energy Complex in Bartow, Florida. The project was designed to test the wetland’s ability to cool and cleanse power plant cooling pond water while providing wildlife habitat and water harvesting benefits. Data collected during the monitoring period was used to calibrate a STELLA model developed for the site. It was also used to inform management recommendations for the demonstration site, and to provide guidance on the use of cooling wetlands for other power plants around the country. As a part of the pilot study, Duke Energy is scaling up the demonstration project to a larger, commercial scale wetland instrumented with monitoring equipment. Construction is expected to be finalized in early 2014.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Applied Ecological Services Incorporated
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Country of Publication:
United States