Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles provided by the Hydro Research Foundation that highlight potential future members of the hydroelectric power industry and their accomplishments.
The Hydro Research Foundation is actively supporting graduate students to conduct research related to conventional and pumped storage hydropower. These students are funded through the Department of Energy’s Water Power Program and industry partners through a five-year, US$3.7 million grant.
Eliot Meyer will graduate this winter from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a PhD in environmental sciences and engineering. Meyer was born and raised in Houston, Texas, with a six-year interlude in Melbourne, Australia. He attended The University of Texas at Austin, where he received a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a B.A. in Plan II, an interdisciplinary liberal arts honors program, in 2009. While attending the University of Texas, he interned at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and researched the nexus of water and energy in several capacities. Upon graduation, he interned with a nonprofit engineering firm focused on projects in the developing world. After receiving his M.S.E.E. degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in December of 2012, Meyer began Ph.D. research under Greg Characklis.
Meyer’s research focused on Mitigating Hydropower Generators’ Financial Risk from Climate Variability in Multi-Purpose Water Management Systems. Variability in the hydrologic cycle has significant impacts on water storage and, by extension, on hydropower production and the revenues it generates. As such, this variability has important financial implications for hydropower producers, and concerns over even greater variability arising from climate change provide an increased sense of urgency.
The research to date has focused on methods for reducing financial risk from water scarcity in a variety of contexts and is now focusing on the Great Lakes region. Work has been done on developing financial tools for commercial shipping operations on the Great Lakes in the face of low lake levels. Whether designed as insurance or some other form of risk transfer instrument, these tools can provide adaptable methods for managing the economic impacts of hydrologic variability, particularly if the instrument is well designed.
A actuarial analysis of index insurance contracts based on the hydrologic dynamics of the system will de developed. This research will also involve testing different contract structures aimed at improving reliability and to compensate for revenue losses that occur under more and less severe events. These risk characterization and mitigation strategies are applicable to other multipurpose water management systems with hydropower facilities. Meyer is seeking a hydro related career upon graduation.