Long-term scheduling of large cascade hydropower stations (LSLCHS) is a complex problem of high dimension, nonlinearity, coupling and complex constraint. In view of the above problem, we present an improved differential evolution (iLSHADE) algorithm based on LSHADE, a state-of-the-art evolutionary algorithm. iLSHADE uses new mutation strategies “current to pbest/2-rand” to obtain wider search range and accelerate convergence with the preventing individual repeated failure evolution (PIRFE) strategy. The handling of complicated constraints strategy of ε
-constrained method is presented to handle outflow, water level and output constraints in the cascade reservoir operation. Numerical experiments of 10 benchmark functions have been done, showing that iLSHADE has stable convergence and high efficiency. Furthermore, we demonstrate the performance of the iLSHADE algorithm by comparing it with other improved differential evolution algorithms for LSLCHS in four large hydropower stations of the Jinsha River. With the applications of iLSHADE in reservoir operation, LSLCHS can obtain more power generation benefit than other alternatives in dry, normal, and wet years. The results of numerical experiments and case studies show that the iLSHADE has a distinct optimization effect and good stability, and it is a valid and reliable tool to solve LSLCHS problem.
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