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China’ energy-water nexus: Hydropower generation potential of joint operation of the Three Gorges and Qingjiang cascade reservoirs

Shang, Yizi, Lu, Shibao, Ye, Yuntao, Liu, Ronghua, Shang, Ling, Liu, Chunna, Meng, Xianyong, Li, Xiaofei, Fan, Qixiang
Energy 2017
algorithms, dynamic programming, energy, financial economics, models, planning, power generation, runoff, water power, China
The completion of Shuibuya, the last hydropower station to be constructed in the Qingjiang cascade, signifies China's successful development of the world's largest mixed cascade hydropower generation system. Joint operation of such cascaded hydropower stations is considered necessary to improve hydropower output in China. In this study, two modeling methods – routine and optimal operations – were adopted, based on existing rules of reservoir operation, to determine the effects of joint operation. To investigate the realistic and potential effects, the two models were computed using observed runoff data (1951–2009). The potential effects were identified by comparing the total hydropower generation two single cascades and their cogeneration. Under the routine operational mode, the incremental power generation of joint operation would be 5.73 × 108 kWh, an increase of 5‰ compared to isolated operation. However, even in isolation, if reservoir operation is optimized through the dynamic programming algorithm, the incremental power generation of the cascade would be 42.24 × 108 kWh, which is seven times that of joint operation with routine reservoir operation (5.73 × 108 kWh). The results showed that, under current reservoir operating rules, there is little room for improvement in hydropower generation, although joint operation could increase hydropower generation to a certain extent, especially in the reservoirs' refill and release stages. China must amend its existing operational mode for reservoirs to enhance the economic benefits of cascade hydropower stations. Furthermore, to meet increasing demands for both water and energy, carefully considered planning of constructing clusters of these stations is required.