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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Ensemble Optimization Framework for Coupled Design of Hydropower Contracts and Real-Time Reservoir Operating Rules


Revenues from hydropower generation often depend on the operator's ability to provide firm power in the presence of uncertain inflows. The primary options available for optimizing revenue are negotiation of a firm power contract before operations begin and adjustment of the reservoir release during operations. Contract and release strategy optimization are closely coupled and most appropriately analyzed with stochastic real-time control methods. Here we use an ensemble-based approach to stochastic optimization that provides a convenient way to construct nonparametric revenue probability distributions to explore the implications of uncertainty. The firm power contract is a simplified bilateral fixed price agreement that partially insulates operator and buyer from price fluctuations. The release control laws and firm energy target are jointly optimized to maximize the operator's expected revenue. Revenue probability distributions and related spill performance statistics indicate that predictive operating strategies such as stochastic dynamic programming and model predictive control can give significantly better performance than standard deterministic operating rules. The performance obtained from batch optimization with perfect inflow information establishes a convenient upper bound on potential revenue and provides a baseline for assessing the significance of differences between real-time operating strategies. Sensitivity analysis indicates that the benefits of predictive operational strategies are greatest for reservoirs with medium nondimensional residence times and less important for reservoirs with large residence times. Overall, probabilistic analysis of the coupled hydropower contract-operations problem provides a realistic way to assess revenue and risk for reservoirs that must provide firm power when inflows are uncertain.

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