Hydropower Modeling Challenges

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Hydropower facilities are important assets for the electric power sector and represent a key source of flexibility for electric grids with large amounts of variable generation. As variable renewable generation sources expand, understanding the capabilities and limitations of the flexibility from hydropower resources is important for grid planning. Appropriately modeling these resources, however, is difficult because of the wide variety of constraints these plants face that other generators do not. These constraints can be broadly categorized as environmental, operational, and regulatory. This report highlights several key issues involving incorporating these constraints when modeling hydropower operations in terms of production cost and capacity expansion. Many of these challenges involve a lack of data to adequately represent the constraints or issues of model complexity and run time. We present several potential methods for improving the accuracy of hydropower representation in these models to allow for a better understanding of hydropower's capabilities.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages29
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5D00-68231


  • flexibility
  • generation
  • grid
  • hydropower
  • model
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • NREL
  • renewable
  • variable


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