30 Nov 2021

30 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Unfolding the relationship between seasonal forecast skill and value in hydropower production: A global analysis

Donghoon Lee1,2, Jia Yi Ng3, Stefano Galelli3, and Paul Block1 Donghoon Lee et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  • 2Climate Hazards Center, Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA
  • 3Pillar of Engineering Systems and Design, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore

Abstract. The potential benefits of seasonal streamflow forecasts for the hydropower sector have been evaluated for several basins across the world, but with contrasting conclusions on the expected benefits. This raises the prospect of a complex relationship between reservoir characteristics, forecast skill and value. Here, we unfold the nature of this relationship by studying time series of simulated power production for 735 headwater dams worldwide. The time series are generated by running a detailed dam model over the period 1958–2000 with three operating schemes: basic control rules, perfect forecast-informed, and realistic forecast-informed. The realistic forecasts are issued by tailored statistical prediction models—based on lagged global and local hydro-climatic variables—predicting seasonal monthly dam inflows. As expected, results show that most dams (94 %) could benefit from perfect forecasts. Yet, the benefits for each dam vary greatly and are primarily controlled by the time-to-fill and the ratio between reservoir depth and hydraulic head. When realistic forecasts are adopted, 25 % of dams demonstrate improvements with respect to basic control rules. In this case, the likelihood of observing improvements is controlled not only by design specifications but also by forecast skill. We conclude our analysis by identifying two groups of dams of particular interest: dams that fall in regions expressing strong forecast accuracy and have the potential to reap benefits from forecast-informed operations, and dams with strong potential to benefit from forecast-informed operations but fall in regions lacking forecast accuracy. Overall, these results represent a first qualitative step towards informing site-specific hydropower studies.

Donghoon Lee et al.

Status: open (until 01 Feb 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2021-518', Anonymous Referee #1, 12 Jan 2022 reply

Donghoon Lee et al.

Data sets

Global Hydropower Simulation Collection Jia Yi Ng, Sean Turner, Donghoon Lee, Paul Block, Stefano Galelli

Donghoon Lee et al.


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Short summary
To fully realize the potential of seasonal streamflow forecasts in the hydropower industry, we need to understand the relationship between reservoir design specifications, forecast skill and value. Here, we rely on realistic forecasts and simulated hydropower operations for 753 dams worldwide to unfold such relationship. Our analysis shows how forecast skill affects hydropower production, what type of dams are most likely to benefit from seasonal forecasts, and where these dams are located.