Climatic Change

, Volume 121, Issue 1, pp 67-78

First online:

Potential consequences of projected climate change impacts on hydroelectricity generation

  • Pierre MukheibirAffiliated withInstitute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney Email author 

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There is a growing concern that countries should reduce their dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation and look to other cleaner technologies. Hydroelectricity is one such option. However, given that hydropower is dependent on rainfall and associated runoff for power generation, it is susceptible to both the positive and negative impacts of climate change, such as increases in temperature and changes in precipitation and runoff. In this paper, impacts on hydropower generation have been organised as either changes in long-term trends or short-term variability and shocks. These impacts could either manifest themselves as direct impacts on hydropower generation potential or as indirect impacts (or ancillary impacts) such as increased competition for water. Citing examples from around the world, this paper investigates the scale of these projected impacts, and the potential cost implication of inaction. It concludes by making recommendations for possible adaptive options to build resilience in response to local impacts.