Journal article

Climate change and hydropower in the Southern African Power Pool and Zambezi River Basin: System-wide impacts and policy implications

Research Areas

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Publication Details

Author list: Spalding-Fecher R., Joyce B., Winkler H.

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication year: 2017

Journal: Energy Policy

Journal name: Energy Policy

Volume number: 103

Start page: 84

End page: 97

Total number of pages: 14

ISSN: 0301-4215



This paper examines climate change impact on hydropower will affect the expansion of
the regional electricity system, as well as system costs and greenhouse
gas emissions. The output from major Zambezi hydropower plants could
decline by 10–20% under a drying climate, while wetting of the basin produces only a marginal increase. At a regional level, the increases in electricity generation costs are relatively small (less than 1% over the long term), but could reach 20–30% in the near term for
hydro-dependent countries (e.g. Mozambique and Zambia). Because some
hydropower could be displaced by coal, regional greenhouse gas emissions
could increase by the equivalent of a large coal-fired power station. The risks to regional electricity systems highlight the need for strong cooperative governance arrangements to manage shared water resources in the region, which could be bolstered by recent political initiatives. Beyond the level of
individual investments, a policy shift is needed to integrate climate
change and upstream development considerations into national and
regional electricity planning, supported by relevant tools. In addition, the potential for increased carbon emissions has implications for the commitments of southern African countries under the Paris Agreement to the UNFCCC.


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Last updated on 2017-01-11 at 12:23