The Role of Hydropower in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: A Review (2016)

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Hydropower is a clean, renewable, and environmentally friendly source of energy. It produces 3930 (TW.h).a-1, and yields 16% of the world’s generated electricity and about 78% of renewable electricity generation (in 2015). Hydropower and climate change show a double relationship. On the one hand, as an important renewable energy resource, hydropower contributes significantly to the avoidance of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to the mitigation of global warming. On the other hand, climate change is likely to alter river discharge, impacting water availability and hydropower generation. Hydropower contributes significantly to the reduction of GHG emissions and to energy supply security. Compared with conventional coal power plants, hydropower prevents the emission of about 3 GT CO2 per year, which represents about 9% of global annual CO2 emissions. Hydropower projects may also have an enabling role beyond the electricity sector, as a financing instrument for multipurpose reservoirs and as an adaptive measure regarding the impacts of climate change on water resources, because regulated basins with large reservoir capacities are more resilient to water resource changes, less vulnerable to climate change, and act as a storage buffer against climate change. At the global level, the overall impact of climate change on existing hydropower generation may be expected to be small, or even slightly positive. However, there is the possibility of substantial variations across regions and even within countries. In conclusion, the general verdict on hydropower is that it is a cheap and mature technology that contributes significantly to climate change mitigation, and could play an important role in the climate change adaptation of water resource availability. However, careful attention is necessary to mitigate the substantial environmental and social costs. Roughly more than a terawatt of capacity could be added in upcoming decades.
Year: 2016
Language: English
In: Engineering, 2 (3): 313-318 p.

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 Record created 2016-12-02, last modified 2016-12-02