Editor’s Note: This is the first 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 dollar grant.
Karen Studarus will graduate this summer from the University of Washington with a PhD in power systems analysis. As a resident of Seattle, Karen enjoys diverse benefits from the Federal Columbia River Power System; self-interest, therefore, bolsters her professional curiosity about the competing constraints and objectives that form the short- term hydropower scheduling problem.
Karen earned her B.S. degree in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. in 2003. At the University of Washington, she discovered her enthusiasm for one application of those techniques: integration of stochastic renewables with the electric power system. She shifted her focus to Power System Economics and Operations and joined Professor Rich Christie’s Wind Integration Research Lab. In addition to pursuing the Ph.D. in power systems analysis, Karen reads avidly, loves hiking and biking through the Pacific Northwest, and enjoys learning languages (especially when putting them to use with international travel).
Karen’s research focused on the Understanding Operational Flexibility in the Federal Columbia River Power System. The work seeks to bridge the gap between academic hydro scheduling formulations and the practical realities of balancing a power system in real time in the face of uncertainty. Initial results will be specific to the inputs supplied by our partners at BPA, but the open source tools created to perform the analysis will be designed to readily answer the same questions for an arbitrary hydropower system’s parameters and historical time series.
Ever improving hydropower coordination optimization algorithms abound in the literature, and are even being explored by other Hydropower Research Foundation fellows. A chasm remains, however, between academically important formulations and the real time decisions of a hydro duty scheduler. Our work seeks to bridge this gap by focusing empirically on how the system is dispatched on an hourly and sub-hourly basis. We will analyze historical time series, rigorously explore all constraints and objectives, and probe assumptions about uncertainty. We will compare feasible system operation with the necessarily simplified theoretical optimizations. Karen is seeking a hydro related career upon graduation.