The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean hydropower system

Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean is a regional water resources system well know for its Fjord, the estuary of the Saguenay River, which in turns drains the Lac-Saint-Jean, one of the largest lake on the left bank of the Saint-Lawrence River in Quebec.

The Saguenay River

The 3137-MW hydropower system of Rio Tinto includes 4 reservoirs and 5 hydropower plants: three on the Péribonca River and two on the Saguenay River.The drainage area is about 78000 km2. In the upstream part of the basin, there are two large reservoirs: Manouane (RLM) and Passes-Dangereuses (RPD) with a storage capacity of 2.7 and 5.2 km3, respectively. The downstream hydropower system is organized around Lac-Saint-Jean (RLSJ) which supplies water to a cascade of two hydropower plants: Chute-à-Caron (454 MW) and Shipshaw (1354 MW). These installations can generate more than 17 TWh/year, which is roughly 90% of the electricity required for the production of aluminum

The main goal of this research project was to assess the economic value of SDDP-derived operating policies using various hydrologic information relevant to a nival hydrologic regime. To achieve this goal, the research project had the following activities:

  • Develop various analytical formulations for the hydrological model embedded into the SDDP algorithm and adapt the optimization algorithm accordingly;
  • Evaluate the economic performances of the multireservoir system associated with the hydrological models developed in (1)
  • Determine how can various energy contracts be included in the SDDP models developed in (2) and describe the impacts on the reservoir operating policies

The project was funded by NSERC and Rio Tinto.


  1. Pina J., A. Tilmant and P. Côté, 2017. Optimizing Multireservoir System Operating Policies Using Exogenous Hydrologic Variables. Water Resources Research. DOI: 10.1002/2017wr021701
Chute-à-Caron power plant
Shipshaw power plant