California’s hydropower system is composed of high and low elevation power plants. There are more than 150 high-elevation power plants, at elevations above 1,000 feet (300 m). Most have modest reservoir storage capacities, but supply roughly 74% of California’s in-state hydropower. The expected shift of runoff peak from spring to winter due to climate warming, resulting in snowpack reduction and increased snowmelt, might have important effects on power generation and revenues in California. The large storage capacities at low-elevation power plants provide flexibility to operations of these units under climate warming. However, with climate warming, the adaptability of the high-elevation hydropower system is in question as this system was designed to take advantage of snowpack, a natural reservoir.With so many high-elevation hydropower plants in California, estimation of climate warming effects by conventional simulation or optimization methods would be tedious and expensive. An Energy-Based Hydropower Optimization Model (EBHOM) was developed to facilitate practical climate change and other low-resolution system-wide hydropower studies, based on the historical generation data of 137 high-elevation hydropower plants for which the data were complete for 14 years. Employing recent historical hourly energy prices, the model was used to explore energy generation in California for three climate warming scenarios (dry warming, wet warming, and warming-only) over 14 years, representing a range of hydrologic conditions. The system is sensitive to the quantity and timing of inflows. While dry warming and warming-only climate changes reduce average hydropower revenues, wet warming could increase revenue. Re-operation of available storage and generation capacities help compensate for snowpack losses to some extent. Storage capacity expansion and to a lesser extent generation capacity expansion both increase revenues, although such expansions might not be cost-effective.
Coupling of hydrological and hydraulic simulation models with numerical optimization algorithms has proven to be effective for optimizing operations of reservoir systems with respect to different management objectives. The combination of accurate reservoir inflow forecasting and optimization technology can provide more efficient balanced solutions for multi-purpose operations of reservoir systems and thereby improve the economy of hydropower production. The technology can be used for both long-term planning purposes for deriving optimal operation rule curves and for short-term water management and hydro scheduling. The forecasting and optimization system is established within a decision support system for real-time operation.The developed forecasting and optimization technologies are demonstrated on optimization of the Hoa Binh reservoir in Vietnam considering hydropower production and flood control. Optimization of reservoir operation rules provides optimal solutions that have both a smaller flood risk and a larger hydropower potential compared to the present regulations. Simulations with a balanced optimum solution show a substantial increase of hydropower production of 210 million kWh on average per year. Real-time optimization in normal flow situations provides solutions that trades-off the immediate and the future value of hydropower production. In flood situations, inflow forecast information is used to optimize reservoir releases to meet storage requirements to reduce downstream flooding.
The Pacific Northwest (PNW) hydropower resource, central to the region's electricity supply, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The Northwest Power andConservation Council (NWPCC), an interstate compact agency, has conducted long termplanning for the PNW electricity supply for its 2005 Power Plan. In formulating its power portfolio recommendation, the NWPCC explored uncertainty in variables that affect theavailability and cost of electricity over the next 20 years. The NWPCC conducted an initialassessment of potential impacts of climate change on the hydropower system, but these results are not incorporated in the riskmodel upon which the 2005 Plan recommendations are based. To assist in bringing climate information into the planning process, we present an assessment of uncertainty in future PNW hydropower generation potential based on a comprehensive set ofclimate models and greenhouse gas emissions pathways. We find that the prognosis for PNW hydropower supply under climate change is worse than anticipated by the NWPCC's assessment. Differences between the predictions of individual climate models are found to contribute more to overall uncertainty than do divergent emissions pathways. Uncertainty in predictions of precipitation change appears to bemore important with respect to impact on PNW hydropower than uncertainty in predictions of temperature change. We also find that a simple regression model captures nearly all of the response of a sequence of complex numerical models to large scale changes in climate. This result offers the possibility of streamlining both top-down impact assessment and bottom-up adaptation planning for PNW water and energy resources.