The multi-objective optimal operation and the joint scheduling of giant-scale reservoir systems are of great significance for water resource management; the interactions and mechanisms between the objectives are the key points. Taking the reservoir system composed of 30 reservoirs in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River as the research object, this paper constructs a multi-objective optimal operation model integrating four objectives of power generation, ecology, water supply, and shipping under the constraints of flood control to analyze the inside interaction mechanisms among the objectives. The results are as follows. (1) Compared with single power generation optimization, multi-objective optimization improves the benefits of the system. The total power generation is reduced by only 4.09% at most, but the water supply, ecology, and shipping targets are increased by 98.52%, 35.09%, and 100% at most under different inflow conditions, respectively. (2) The competition between power generation and the other targets is the most obvious; the relationship between water supply and ecology depends on the magnitude of flow required by the control section for both targets, and the restriction effect of the shipping target is limited. (3) Joint operation has greatly increased the overall benefits. Compared with the separate operation of each basin, the benefits of power generation, water supply, ecology, and shipping increased by 5.50%, 45.99%, 98.49%, and 100.00% respectively in the equilibrium scheme. This study provides a widely used method to analyze the multi-objective relationship mechanism, and can be used to guide the actual scheduling rules.
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