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Assessment of the potential implications of a 1.5 °C versus higher global temperature rise for the Afobaka hydropower scheme in Suriname

Abstract

The long-term sustainability of proposed or existing hydropower schemes strongly depends on the availability of water resources. Under climate change, long-term water resource availability in the Caribbean is highly uncertain. This study presents an approach for assessing future climate impacts on regional hydropower potential premised on the use of hydrological models and projections from the latest generation of climate models. When the methodology is applied to the Afobaka hydropower scheme in Suriname, the results indicate significant changes in, both, water resources availability and hydropower potential with increasing global temperatures. A decrease of approximately 40% is projected by the end of the century for global temperature increase in the range of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. Under a “business as usual” greenhouse gas emissions pathway, which would lead to global temperatures significantly above 1.5 °C, the impact is more severe, with a projected decrease of up to 80% (65 MW) of the firm power capacity (80 MW) by the end of the century.

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Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modeling, which is responsible for CMIP, and thank the climate modeling groups (listed in Table 1) for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Inter comparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. Gratitude is expressed to the Caribbean Development Bank and Pilot Project for Climate Resilience (PPCR) for enabling the participation of the authors in the Caribbean 1.5 project. Gratitude is also expressed to the local institutions from Suriname, who made the necessary GIS, hydro-meteorological, and hydraulic data available, namely the Anton de Kom University of Suriname, CELOS-NARENA, and the Ministry of Natural Resources. Els Van Uytven obtained a scholarship from the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO)—Flanders and gratefully acknowledges this financial support.

Funding

Els Van Uytven obtained a scholarship from the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO)—Flanders and gratefully acknowledges this financial support.

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Correspondence to Peter Donk.

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Donk, P., Van Uytven, E., Willems, P. et al. Assessment of the potential implications of a 1.5 °C versus higher global temperature rise for the Afobaka hydropower scheme in Suriname. Reg Environ Change 18, 2283–2295 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1339-1

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Keywords

  • Hydropower
  • Climate change
  • Climate modeling
  • Statistical downscaling
  • CMIP5
  • Suriname