skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Projected impact of climate change on hydropower potential in China

In China, hydroelectric power is abundant, and half of hydropower potential is currently unexploited. Hydropower has been an important electrical energy during the past decades, and is still growing rapidly in China. However, hydropower is highly dependent on streamflow and is sensitive to climate change. It is of great interest to examine the impact of climate change on hydropower potential against the background within the context of the undergoing fast development of hydropower in China. Future changes in gross hydropower potential (GHP) of China are projected using simulations from eight global hydrological models (GHMs) forced by five general circulation models (GCMs) with climate data under two representative concentration pathways (RCP2.6 and RCP8.5). Developed hydropower potential (DHP), based on existing reservoirs and installed hydropower capacity (IHC) in 2004, is also estimated by incorporating a hydropower module. Results show that GHP will generally decrease in southern China and increase in northern China; annual GHP would change by -1.7% to 2% in the near future (2020-2050), and increase by 3-6% of present GHP at the late 21st century (2070-2099). Annual DHP will decrease by about 2.2-5.4% (0.7-1.7% of total IHC) and 1.3%-4% (0.4-1.3% of total IHC) in 2020-2050 and 2070-2099, respectively, which aremore » mostly contributed by the large DHP decrease in South Central China (SCC) and Eastern China (EC), where most reservoirs and large IHC are currently located. The hotspot region of hydropower in Southwest China, where many hydropower stations are under planning or construction, show increases of near 2-6% and 4-11% in annual GHP for the 2020-2050 and 2070-2099, respectively. In another hotspot region, Sichuan and Hubei provinces, DHP will decrease by 2.6-5.7% (0.46-0.97% of total IHC) and 0.8-5% (0.13-0.91% of total IHC) in the 2020-2050 and 2070-2099, respectively. This is mainly due to the significant reduction in discharge; meanwhile, increasing floods will not contribute more hydropower in the hotspot region. It indicates that reservoirs might be unable to provide enough hydropower generation as present-day and enlarge regional water use competition in this region. It is also noted that most large decrease in DHP will occur in autumn or winter, when streamflow is relatively low and water use is competitive. Large spreads of hydropower estimates across GHMs and GCMs highlight the necessity of using multi-model assessment under climate change.« less
; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 20(8):3343-3359
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
hydropower; climate change; China; modeling; water resources management