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Projecting hydropower production under future climates: a guide for decision‐makers and modelers to interpret and design climate change impact assessments

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Hydropower is a key energy source in almost all world regions. It fuels social and economic development, ensures electricity security, and is a pillar for renewable electricity production. But hydropower and its environmental impacts are vulnerable to climate change. This discussion of model‐based climate change impact assessments and underlying modeling assumptions will help decision‐makers and scientists analyzing existing studies and identifying the most urgent open questions. Rooted in hydrological uncertainty analysis, this discussion focuses on the importance of local factors and on modeling uncertainties for a critical view on our ability to project future hydropower production in different world regions. WIREs Water 2015, 2:271–289. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1083 This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
Sketch of the general framework for climate change impact assessment, composed of three simulation phases (color boxes) and of four phases of output assessment (gray boxes).
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Sketch of the model chain for climate change impact simulation. Many more feedback loops between the models could exist. A complete HPP management model includes HPP operation as well as maintenance work.
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Sketch of the use of flow duration curves to assess the impact of hydrological regime changes on the production potential of run‐of‐river HPP; Q stands for discharge and T for the yearly time of exceedance (duration); Qd: design discharge (nominal maximum discharge for the turbines), Qmin: minimum discharge imposed by the water use concession; Qmax: maximum flow constraint to protect turbines from sediments and floating material; T* is the duration beyond which the exploitable discharge is limited by Qmin.
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Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change

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