An approach to estimating hydropower impacts of climate change from a regional perspective

McPhee J.; Rubio-Alvarez, E; Meza R.; Ayala A.; Vargas, X; Vicuna, S

Keywords: systems, energy, models, system, water, modeling, conservation, generation, development, climate, variability, management, countries, soil, matrix, grids, hydropower, coefficients, power, input, river, production, reservoir, change, rivers, estimation, watersheds, analysis, hydroelectric, electricity, generators, land, scenario, use, statistical, mitigation, landforms, mathematical, economic, productions, of, variations, Electric, developing, the, Electrical, climatic, Hydrologic, hydro, implications, Carbon-based, Further, Run, SRES


In many developing countries, hydropower represents a significant contribution to the electricity generation matrix. In Chile, a combination of run-of-the-river and reservoir systems contributes approximately 50% to the total electric input, and plans for further development are under way, in order to match projections of a 100% demand increase in the next 20 years. Clearly, hydropower production is very sensitive to short- and long-term climatic variability. With many river systems showing annual streamflow coefficients of variation greater than 0.5, and with climatic projections indicating precipitation reductions for a large portion of the territory, hydropower vulnerability to climate change is an issue of great concern in Chile. The topic has economic implications, but also climate change mitigation implications given the role of hydropower as a substitute for carbon-based energy production. In this work we present a methodology for assessing climate change vulnerability of hydropower systems in Chile, based on hydrologic modeling, statistical analysis of historic generation and estimations of future behavior in an industry dominated by private utilities. The results presented here indicate that, over all, the Chilean interconnected electrical grid could face decreases of up to 20% in power input by the end of the 21 st century under the A2 SRES scenario. On the other hand power input reductions are smaller in magnitude than projected precipitation reductions, which hints at the potential for adaptation within the industry. © 2011 ASCE.

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Volumen: 394
Fecha de publicación: 2010
Página de inicio: 13
Página final: 24