Task 2.5: Integrated simulation of hydropower systems operation

Research partners: Chair of Hydrology and Water Resources Management (HWRM) at ETH Zurich, Swiss National Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL)

Research objectives
This task is designed to develop an advanced modelling framework for the integrated continuous simulation of streamflow regimes and the operation of hydropower systems under future climate scenarios, operational constraints, and technical solutions. The modelling framework allows a quantitative assessment of current and future hydropower reservoir operation strategies in terms of energy production, integration with other power sources, and effects on natural water bodies and ecosystems. The specific objectives are:

  • to assess impacts of climate change on available water resources at existing and planned HP systems, on their extremes (low and high flows), on floods and sediment transport and, more in general, on any element of change that can affect the hydropower production potential;
  • to assess the production increase achievable by operating strategies different from the current ones or by modified system configurations that account for technical improvements and/or adaptations of the HP systems to new forcing and boundary conditions (e.g., structural changes of the dam, power plants, and pumping plants);
  • to analyse the effects of increasingly volatile demand and market conditions (as induced, for instance, by production from other renewable energies) on the production potential and to design more flexible HP system operation strategies.

Current projects

We use a set of stochastically downscaled climate scenarios to quantify the changes in future water availability and to test the sustainability of current HP system operation in terms of production and revenue. This activity links to Task 2.1 of the SCCER-SoE.

We use both data mining and optimization techniques to design alternative HP systems’ operations to fulfil production requirements, HP production profitability and reliability. This activity links to Task 2.2 of the SCCER-SoE.

We analyse the effects of different HP systems’ operations and current environmental protection policies (e.g., Minimum Environmental Flow) on power production and ecosystems and we assess how different measures can affect the HP and natural system performances. This activity links to Task 2.4 of the SCCER-SoE and to the NRP 70 funded project “HydroEnv”.

We use a set of stochastically downscaled precipitation and temperature scenarios (both for control and transient climate) to analyse changes in the frequency of peak flow, flood volumes, and flood duration to derive marginal and joint future probability distributions, which are used to test the reservoir spillway design flood. This activity links to Work Package 4 of the SCCER-SoE.