Climate Change Impacts on Hydropower Management


Climate change affects hydropower production by modifying total annual inflow volumes and their seasonal distribution. Moreover, increasing air temperatures impact electricity consumption and, as a consequence, electricity prices. All together, these phenomena may lead to a loss in revenue. We show that an adequate management of hydropower plants mitigates these losses. These results are obtained by resorting to an interdisciplinary approach integrating hydrology, economy and hydropower management in an interdependent quantitative model.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11


  1. 1.


  2. 2.

  3. 3.

  4. 4.

    Historical air temperatures are provided by MeteoSuisse.

  5. 5.

    For implementation details see Gilli et al. (2011).


  1. Ahmed T, Muttaqi KM, Agalgaonkar AP (2012) Climate change impacts on electricity demand in the State of New South Wales, Australia. Appl Energy 98:376–383

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Christenson M, Manz H, Gyalistras D (2006) Climate warming impact on degree-days and building energy demand in Switzerland. Energy Convers Manag 47(6):671–686

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Dueck G, Tobias S (1990) Threshold accepting. A general purpose optimization algorithm superior to simulated annealing. J Comput Phys 90(1):161–175

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Farinotti D, Usselmann S, Huss M, Bauder A, Funk M (2012) Runoff evolution in the Swiss Alps: projections for selected high-alpine catchments based on ensembles scenarios. Hydrol Process 26(13):1909–1924

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Finger D, Heinrich G, Gobiet A, Bauder A (2012) Projections of future water resources and their uncertainty in a glacierized catchment in the Swiss Alps and the subsequent effects on hydropower production during the 21st century. Water Resours Res 48. doi10.1029/2011WR010733

  6. Gabbi J, Farinotti D, Bauder A, Maurer H (2012) Ice volume distribution and implications on runoff projections in a glacierized catchment. Hydrology Earth Syst Sci 16(12):4543–4556

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Gilli M, Maringer D, Schumann E (2011) Numerical methods and optimization in finance. Elsevier

  8. Golombek R, Kittelsen SAC, Haddeland I (2012) Climate change: impacts on electricity markets in Western Europe. Clim Chang 113(2):357–370

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Hänggi P, Weingartner R (2012) Variations in discharge volumes for hydropower generation in Switzerland. Water Resour Manag 26(5):1231–1252

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Huss M, Farinotti D, Bauder A, Funk M (2008) Modelling runoff from highly glacierized alpine drainage basins in a changing climate. Hydrol Process 22(19):3888–3902

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Keller F, Goyette S, Beniston M (2005) Sensitivity analysis of snow cover to climate change scenarios and their impact on plant habitats in alpine terrain. Clim Chang 72(3):299–319

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Moscato P, Fontanari JF (1990) Stochastic versus deterministic update in simulated annealing. Phys Lett A 146(4):204–208

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Schaefli B, Hingray B, Musy A (2007) Climate change and hydropower production in the Swiss Alps: quantification of potential impacts and related modelling uncertainties. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 11(3):1191–1205

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Terrier S, Jordan F, Schleiss AJ, Haeberli W, Huggel C, Künzler M (2011). Optimized and adapted hydropower management considering glacier shrinkage scenarios in the Swiss Alps. In: Schleiss A J, Boes R M (eds) Dams and reservoirs under changing challenges. Leiden, pp. 497–508

  15. Uhlmann B, Goyette S, Beniston M (2009) Sensitivity analysis of snow patterns in Swiss ski resorts to shifts in temperature, precipitation and humidity under conditions of climate change. Int J Climatol 29(8):1048–1055

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was carried out within the frame of the Swiss research programme 61 ( We are grateful to the Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau, Hydrologie und Glaziologie, in particular, Martin Funk, Andreas Bauder and Jeannette Gabbi for providing hydrological data and essential information. We also thank Force Motrices de Mauvoisin for the reservoir management data and sharing their expertise. The ENSEMBLES data used in this work was funded by the EU FP6 Integrated Project ENSEMBLES (Contract number 505539). Martin Beniston and Stephan Goyette provided valuable scientific input and Christophe Etienne and Denis Cohen proofread an earlier version of the paper.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ludovic Gaudard.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gaudard, L., Gilli, M. & Romerio, F. Climate Change Impacts on Hydropower Management. Water Resour Manage 27, 5143–5156 (2013).

Download citation


  • Climate change
  • Hydropower management
  • Electricity market
  • Switzerland