It is important to investigate the laws of reservoir multi-objective optimization operations, because it can obtain the best benefits from inter-basin water transfer projects to mitigate water shortage in intake areas. Given the multifaceted demands of the Hanjiang to Wei River Water Diversion Project, China (referred hereafter as “the Project”), an easy-to-operate multi-objective optimal model based on simulation is built and applied to search the multi-objective optimization operation rules between power generation and energy consumption. The Project includes two reservoirs connected by a water transfer tunnel. One is Huangjinxia, located in the mainstream of Hanjiang with abundant inflow but no regulation ability, and the other is Sanhekou, located in the tributary of Hanjiang with multi-year regulation ability but less water. The layout of the Project increases the difficulty of reservoir joint optimization operations. Therefore, an improved Non-dominated Sorting Genetic Algorithm-II (I-NSGA-II) with a feasible search space is proposed to solve the model based on long-term series data. The results show that: (1) The validated simulation model is helpful to obtain Pareto front curves to reveal the rules between power generation and energy consumption. (2) Choosing a reasonable search step size to build a feasible search space based on simulation results for the I-NSGA-II can help find more optimized solutions. Considering the influence of the initial populations of the algorithm and limited computing ability of computers, the qualified rate of Pareto points solved by I-NSGA-II are superior to NSGA-II. (3) According to the characteristics of the Project, water transfer ratio threshold value of two reservoirs are quantified for maximize economic benefits. Moreover, the flood season is a critical operation period for the Project, in which both reservoirs should supply more water to intake areas to ensure the energy balanced of the entire system. The findings provide an easy-to-operate multi-objective operation model with the I-NSGA-II that can easily be applied in optimal management of inter-basin water transfer projects by relevant authorities.
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