skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Examining global electricity supply vulnerability to climate change using a high-fidelity hydropower dam model

Abstract

Here, an important and plausible impact of a changing global climate is altered power generation from hydroelectric dams. Here we project 21st century global hydropower production by forcing a coupled, global hydrological and dam model with three General Circulation Model (GCM) projections run under two emissions scenarios. Dams are simulated using a detailed model that accounts for plant specifications, storage dynamics, reservoir bathymetry and realistic, optimized operations. We show that the inclusion of these features can have a non-trivial effect on the simulated response of hydropower production to changes in climate. Simulation results highlight substantial uncertainty in the direction of change in globally aggregated hydropower production (~–5 to + 5% change in mean global production by the 2080s under a high emissions scenario, depending on GCM). Several clearly impacted hotspots are identified, the most prominent of which encompasses the Mediterranean countries in southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. In this region, hydropower production is projected to be reduced by approximately 40% on average by the end of the century under a high emissions scenario. After accounting for each country's dependence on hydropower for meeting its current electricity demands, the Balkans countries emerge as the most vulnerable (~ 5–20%more » loss in total national electricity generation depending on country). On the flipside, a handful of countries in Scandinavia and central Asia are projected to reap a significant increase in total electrical production (~ 5–15%) without investing in new power generation facilities.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States); SUTD-MIT International Design Centre (Singapore)
  2. SUTD-MIT International Design Centre (Singapore); Veolia City Modelling Centre (Singapore)
  3. Singapore Univ. of Tech. and Design (Singapore)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1347968
Report Number(s):
PNNL-ACT-SA-10218
Journal ID: ISSN 0048-9697; PII: S0048969717305272
Grant/Contract Number:
AC057601830; IDG 21400101
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Science of the Total Environment
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 590-591; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0048-9697
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
13 HYDRO ENERGY; hydropower; climate change; water resources; dams; global; water-energy nexus

Citation Formats

Turner, Sean W. D., Ng, Jia Yi, and Galelli, Stefano. Examining global electricity supply vulnerability to climate change using a high-fidelity hydropower dam model. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.022.
Turner, Sean W. D., Ng, Jia Yi, & Galelli, Stefano. Examining global electricity supply vulnerability to climate change using a high-fidelity hydropower dam model. United States. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.022.
Turner, Sean W. D., Ng, Jia Yi, and Galelli, Stefano. Tue . "Examining global electricity supply vulnerability to climate change using a high-fidelity hydropower dam model". United States. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.022. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1347968.
@article{osti_1347968,
title = {Examining global electricity supply vulnerability to climate change using a high-fidelity hydropower dam model},
author = {Turner, Sean W. D. and Ng, Jia Yi and Galelli, Stefano},
abstractNote = {Here, an important and plausible impact of a changing global climate is altered power generation from hydroelectric dams. Here we project 21st century global hydropower production by forcing a coupled, global hydrological and dam model with three General Circulation Model (GCM) projections run under two emissions scenarios. Dams are simulated using a detailed model that accounts for plant specifications, storage dynamics, reservoir bathymetry and realistic, optimized operations. We show that the inclusion of these features can have a non-trivial effect on the simulated response of hydropower production to changes in climate. Simulation results highlight substantial uncertainty in the direction of change in globally aggregated hydropower production (~–5 to + 5% change in mean global production by the 2080s under a high emissions scenario, depending on GCM). Several clearly impacted hotspots are identified, the most prominent of which encompasses the Mediterranean countries in southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. In this region, hydropower production is projected to be reduced by approximately 40% on average by the end of the century under a high emissions scenario. After accounting for each country's dependence on hydropower for meeting its current electricity demands, the Balkans countries emerge as the most vulnerable (~ 5–20% loss in total national electricity generation depending on country). On the flipside, a handful of countries in Scandinavia and central Asia are projected to reap a significant increase in total electrical production (~ 5–15%) without investing in new power generation facilities.},
doi = {10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.022},
journal = {Science of the Total Environment},
number = C,
volume = 590-591,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Mar 07 00:00:00 EST 2017},
month = {Tue Mar 07 00:00:00 EST 2017}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 1work
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:
  • Recent progress in global scale hydrological and dam modeling has allowed for the study of climate change impacts on global hydropower production. Here we explore the possible consequences of these impacts for the electricity supply sector. Regional hydropower projections are developed for two emissions scenarios by forcing a coupled global hydrological and dam model with downscaled, bias-corrected climate realizations derived from sixteen general circulation models. Consequent impacts on power sector composition and associated emissions and investment costs are explored using the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM). Changes in hydropower generation resulting from climate change can shift power demands onto andmore » away from carbon intensive technologies, resulting in significant impacts on power sector CO2 emissions for certain world regions—primarily those located in Latin America, as well as Canada and parts of Europe. Reduced impacts of climate change on hydropower production under a low emissions scenario coincide with increased costs of marginal power generating capacity—meaning impacts on power sector investment costs are similar for high and low emissions scenarios. Individual countries where impacts on investment costs imply significant risks or opportunities are identified.« less
  • Climate change is projected to increase hydropower generation in some parts of the world and decrease it in others. Here we explore the possible consequences of these impacts for the electricity supply sector at the global scale. Regional hydropower projections are developed by forcing a coupled global hydrological and dam model with downscaled, bias-corrected climate realizations. Consequent impacts on power sector composition and associated emissions and investment costs are explored using the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM). We find that climate-driven changes in hydropower generation may shift power demands onto and away from carbon intensive technologies. This then causes significantlymore » altered power sector CO 2 emissions in several hydro-dependent regions, although the net global impact is modest. For drying regions, we estimate a global, cumulative investment need of approximately one trillion dollars (±$500 billion) this century to make up for deteriorated hydropower generation caused by climate change. Total investments avoided are of a similar magnitude across regions projected to experience increased precipitation. Investment risks and opportunities are concentrated in hydro-dependent countries for which significant climate change is expected. Various countries throughout the Balkans, Latin America and Southern Africa are most vulnerable, whilst Norway, Canada, and Bhutan emerge as clear beneficiaries.« less
  • Hydropower operations optimization subject to environmental constraints is limited by challenges associated with dimensionality and spatial and temporal resolution. The need for high-fidelity hydrodynamic and water quality models within optimization schemes is driven by improved computational capabilities, increased requirements to meet specific points of compliance with greater resolution, and the need to optimize operations of not just single reservoirs but systems of reservoirs. This study describes an important advancement for computing hourly power generation schemes for a hydropower reservoir using high-fidelity models, surrogate modeling techniques, and optimization methods. The predictive power of the high-fidelity hydrodynamic and water quality model CE-QUAL-W2more » is successfully emulated by an artificial neural network, then integrated into a genetic algorithm optimization approach to maximize hydropower generation subject to constraints on dam operations and water quality. This methodology is applied to a multipurpose reservoir near Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The model successfully reproduced high-fidelity reservoir information while enabling 6.8% and 6.6% increases in hydropower production value relative to actual operations for dissolved oxygen (DO) limits of 5 and 6 mg/L, respectively, while witnessing an expected decrease in power generation at more restrictive DO constraints. Exploration of simultaneous temperature and DO constraints revealed capability to address multiple water quality constraints at specified locations. Here, the reduced computational requirements of the new modeling approach demonstrated an ability to provide decision support for reservoir operations scheduling while maintaining high-fidelity hydrodynamic and water quality information as part of the optimization decision support routines.« less
  • Urban water use, particularly outdoor use, responds to changes in temperature, precipitation, and other climatic parameters. The study significantly improved the capacity of an existing regional water demand model to estimate the response of both residential and commercial-industrial water demand to changes in climatic parameters. The resulting functional relationships derived from historic time-series climatic and water use data were applied to global climate scenarios for the four Wasatch Front counties of Utah.