Adaptation Community Meeting - Addressing Climate Risks to Hydro Power: Planning for Resilient Power Systems
At the October 2017 Adaptation Community Meeting Dr. Molly Hellmuth discussed how to address climate risks to hydro power.
Hydropower is growing rapidly worldwide as a clean and renewable energy source that helps countries enhance energy security and curb greenhouse gas emissions, depending on location.
The benefits of hydropower are especially salient for smaller-scale hydro, given its smaller environmental and social footprint. New financial instruments, such as green bonds and payments for water services, along with engagement from multilateral agencies also make smaller-scale hydropower investment more attractive and feasible. But what does a changing climate mean for hydropower?
Changing rainfall patterns, rising temperature, more frequent or intense droughts and extreme weather events, glacier and snow-pack melt, sea level rise and resulting flooding all affect hydroelectricity generation capacity. Unless these risks are addressed, the intended hydropower benefits of improving energy access and security while reducing emissions relative to other power sources, may fall short. This is particularly true if electricity grids must turn to traditional, carbon-intensive energy sources, such as coal-fired plants, when hydropower becomes constrained.
Based on a recently released paper developed by the USAID-funded Resources to Advance LEDS Implementation (RALI) project, this presentation highlighted 1) how climate change can affect power generation resources, particularly hydropower resources; and 2) an approach that can be taken to address climate change risks, both at the project and sector level, to improve power system resilience and enhance energy security.
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Dr. Molly Hellmuth is the focal point on water and Africa for ICF’s Climate Adaptation and Resilience team. She has 20 years of experience developing climate risk management strategies, tools, and guidelines for various clients, including USAID, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Western Electric Coordinating Council, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), amongst others. Dr. Hellmuth leads the work on integrating climate resilience into power systems planning under USAID’s Integrated Resource and Resilience Planning projects in Ghana and Tanzania. She is also developing a climate change risk screening tool application for hydropower facilities in the Lower Mekong River Basin, with support from DOE.
This event was organized by the USAID Climate Change Adaptation, Thought Leadership, and Assessments (ATLAS) project. All Adaptation Community Meeting webinars can be found here.