5 % higher profits
The objective of such forecasts is to generate an optimal plan that indicates at what times the water in a reservoir is to be passed through the turbines. Here, it is not only the level of the reservoir that is decisive. A further important factor is for how much money the electricity can be sold at the time in question. This allows for profits to be maximised.
Using historical price and weather data from 1994 to 2014, the researchers analysed how much more the operators in the Valle Verzasca could have earned. It was shown that with the statistical refinement it would have been possible to generate additional income of CHF 230,000 each year – if the better discharge forecasts had been available, the operators would not have had to drain as much water that had not yet been utilised. In individual years, the profits can be even greater, as they experiment period of 1994-2015 showed. During this period, the researchers created real forecasts and in doing so generated additional earnings of up to EUR 1 million. According to the researchers, this large sum can partially be attributed to a favourable weather situation. The researchers also tested their new methods in the Klöntal valley – but without much success. Despite more precise discharge forecasts, hardly any additional earnings were achieved here. For the catchment area of the river Thur, it was not possible to check possible earnings due to a lack of price data.
Based on the example of the Valle Verzasca, however, the method showed that earnings can be increased by up to 5 % without the need for construction measures. This optimisation was not least possible because the WSL worked closely with MeteoSwiss and partners from the industrial sector. The researchers therefore also recommend that politicians in future support such cooperations between state research institutions and private bodies in order to facilitate the development of innovative solutions.