Increased operational costs of electricity generation in the Delaware River and Estuary from salinity increases due to sea-level rise and a deepened channel. Academic Article uri icon


  • Like many estuaries in the world, salinity levels in the Delaware River and Estuary are expected to increase due to a deepened navigational channel and sea-level rise. This study estimated operational cost increases resulting from increased ambient salinity likely to be incurred at PSEG-Hope Creek, an evaporatively cooled electricity generating station. To estimate cost increases, a linked physical-economic model was developed to generate daily forecasts of salinity and the resulting changes in facility's cooling water treatment and pumping requirements. Salinity increases under potential future bathymetric configurations were simulated using a hydrodynamic model. On an equivalent annual basis (discounted at 5%), average cost increases were $0.4M per year, or approximately 0.1% of estimated total annual operating costs for the facility. Methods developed here could be employed at other facilities anticipating future salinity increases. Results inform cost-benefit analyses for dredging projects and contribute to estimates of the indirect costs to society from carbon emissions through sea-level rise. Future research refinements can focus on modeling changes in suspended sediment concentrations and estimating their impacts on operational costs.

publication date

  • August 15, 2019