Hydropower dependency and climate change in sub-Saharan Africa: A nexus framework and evidence-based review

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.05.263.

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Authors

Giacomo Falchetta , David E.H.J. Gernaat, Julian Hunt, Sebastian Sterl

Abstract

In sub-Saharan Africa, 160 million grid-connected electricity consumers live in countries where hydropower accounts for over 50% of total power supply. A warmer climate with more frequent and intense extremes could result in supply reliability issues. Here, (i) a robust framework to highlight the interdependencies between hydropower, water availability, and climate change is proposed, (ii) the state-of-the art literature on the projected impacts of climate change on hydropower in sub-Saharan Africa is reviewed, and (iii) supporting evidence on past trends and current pathways of power mix diversification, drought incidence, and climate change projections is provided. We find that only few countries have pursued a diversification strategy away from hydropower over the last three decades, while others expansion plans will reinforce the dependency. This will occur irrespective of the fact that some of the largest river basins have experienced a significant drying during the last century. Agreement is found on likely positive impacts of climate change on East Africas hydropower potential, negative impacts in West and Southern Africa, and substantial uncertainty in Central Africa. Irrespective of the absolute change in gross technical potential, more frequent and intense extremes are projected. One possible paradigm to increase resilience and fulfil the pledges of the Paris Agreement is a synergetic planning and management of hydropower and variable renewables.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31223/osf.io/w7rj3

Subjects

Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, International and Area Studies, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences

Keywords

climate change, Climate impact, Climate-water-energy nexus, Hydroelectricity, Hydropower, Power supply reliability, sub-Saharan Africa

Dates

Published: 2019-09-06 13:56

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License

GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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