Funded by: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei
June 2018 / December 2020

The Energy-Water-Climate Nexus. Climate change impact on hydropower - trends, impacts and resilience-oriented diversification pathways (HYDROCLIMA)

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 160 million grid-connected electricity consumers live in countries where hydropower accounts for over 50% of total power supply. 
In recent years, prolonged droughts have determined severe power crisis in different hydro-dependent countries, with frequent outages, power rationing, and adverse business experience. 
Water availability issues represent a growing source of risk in different areas, also due to an increasing competition between irrigation in agriculture and hydropower water withdrawal and consumption. 
A warmer climate with more frequent and intense extremes could therefore result in supply reliability and local economic issues. 
The HYDROCLIMA project aims to analyze historical data regarding the impact of hydro-climatic extremes on power generation and to understand which strategies could prove to be effective in mitigating the problem under different climate change scenarios. 
Particular attention is paid to the study of diversification strategies that contribute to a greater penetration of variable renewables in the electricity system and their balancing with hydroelectric generation.

Main Results and Outputs
  • In-depth analysis of the state-of-the-art on the impacts of climate change on water availability and hydroelectric generation
  • Creation of an integrated framework to highlight the interdependencies between hydroelectric power generation, water availability and climate change
  • Analysis of data on the diversification trends of the electricity generation mix, the projects of expansion of the current capacity, the incidence of drought, and future climate projections
  • Development of an empirical case study in the context of Malawi with the aim of modelling a framework capable of combining hydrological, energy, and climatic data collected in the field and through satellite measurements and estimating the impacts of drought on hydroelectric production
  • Formulation of policy recommendations aimed at increasing the resilience of energy systems to climate change with a nexus approach and favoring the diversification of generation mixes
Project team
Project leader
Giacomo Falchetta
Researcher Read more

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