Water management has become critical for thermoelectric power generation in the US. Increasing demand for scarce water resources for domestic, agricultural, and industrial use affects water availability for power plants. In particular, the population in the Southwestern part of the US is growing and water resources are over-stressed.
The engineering and management teams at the Palo Verde Generating Station (PV) in the Sonoran Desert have long understood this problem and began a partnership with Sandia National Laboratories in 2017 to develop a long-term water strategy for PV. As part of this program, Sandia and Palo Verde staff have developed a comprehensive software tool that models all aspects of the PV (plant cooling) water cycle. The software tool — the Palo Verde Water Cycle Model (PVWCM) — tracks water operations from influent to the plant through evaporation in one of the nine cooling towers or one of the eight evaporation ponds.
The PVWCM has been developed using a process called System Dynamics. The PVWCM is developed to allow scenario comparison for various plant operating strategies.