Robust joint design and operation of hydropower systems

Grantham Scholar Veysel Yildiz’s research will contribute to scientific and technical advances in hydropower plant design.

The project

Hydropower both large and small is a comparatively cheap, reliable, sustainable, and renewable source of energy. It has been the leading source of renewable energy across the world, generating more than 16% of the total electricity demand in 2020. Therefore, it will likely play a crucial role as the energy system shifts towards a carbon-free future.

Currently, at least 3,700 major dams, each with a capacity of more than 1 MW, are either planned or under construction in the next 30 years, primarily in countries with emerging economies. The most intensive development is planned in river basins of global relevance, including the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong. These developments ensure that hydropower will remain a key energy source of global electricity supply. However, large reservoirs have significant environmental impacts, so a number of studies have been looking for alternative, less intrusive hydropower plant designs.

Traditional assessments of hydropower plants usually rely on historical flows and set conditions of use by ignoring impacts of climate change and economic related other future uncertainties. These plants are optimised under these arbitrary conditions based on cost-benefit analysis by focusing on identification of optimal solution rather than robust alternatives which perform well under a range of uncertain conditions. Moreover, design and operation of these plants are considered separately without taking into account turbine system design and basin scale assessment of hydropower development.

The aim of my study is to address these shortcomings to contribute to scientific and technical advances in hydropower plant design. To achieve this, design and operation of hydropower systems needs to be integrated on a basin scale in a way that (i) is robust to climatic, socio economic and technological evolutions, (ii) accounts for trade offs between different uses of large-scale water infrastructure, (iii) explicitly accounts for the detail of turbine systems, (iv) integrates run-of-river (RoRs) and multipurpose reservoir based (RBs) hydropower plants at the basin-scale.


Free sustainability webinars. Veysel was part of a group who organised the Water For Everyone webinar. Created as part of our ongoing public engagement, it is on of a playlist of Grantham Scholar webinars available on YouTube.

Veysel Yildiz’s publications

A toolbox for the optimal design of run-of-river hydropower plants

Application Multi-Objective Robust Decision-Making to the Design of Run-ofRiver Hydropower Plants.

Numerical simulation model of run of river hydropower plants: Concepts, Numerical modeling, Turbine system and selection, and design optimization.

Technical note: Statistical generation of climate-perturbed flow duration curves


Dr Charles Rougé

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering


Dr Solomon Brown

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering