HomeResourcesConference PapersClimate change and the impact on hydropower

Climate change and the impact on hydropower

Conference: Hydro Power Africa
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Presenter: Emmanuel Jjunju
Abstract: Presented by Emmanuel Jjunju at Hydro Power Africa

This is a description of a research project that that aims to improve the understanding of the magnitude and spatial variation of the impacts of potential climate change on Hydropower in East Africa and parts of southern Africa (Zambia and Malawi). This work is expected to provide a contribution to knowledge for guiding investment decisions and adopting or modifying existing regional strategies for developing and sharing hydropower resources between the countries in order to maximize the benefits and thus ensure sustainable hydropower development in the face of climate change.

It is important to address the impact of climate change since it is a potential threat to the sustainability of renewable energy resources such as hydropower, yet renewable energy sources are a leading option for meeting growing energy demand and also for mitigating climate change. The magnitude of climate change projections for Africa, the variation in space of expected changes in temperature and precipitation across Africa, the few modelling attempts for most of Africa and hence the uncertainty in existing information as pointed out by the IPCC 4AR, further justify the need for more studies at finer spatial scales where the impacts are felt; such as on a level of a catchment area of a hydropower plant.

Given the large-spatial and temporal scales of projections from Global Climate Models (GCMs), downscaling of climate variables from Global Climate Models (GCMs) will be employed. Hydrologic analysis and modelling (e.g., rainfall-runoff modelling, time series analysis), hydropower production simulation and economic analysis are the main tools of work. To give a preliminary feel of the impacts, expected changes in climate over the region are presented and a trend analysis of historically observed data for a number of hydropower sites is carried out in order to detect how these catchments have fared under observed climate change.