This study presents a model-based approach for analyzing the possible effects of global change on Europe's hydropower potential at a country scale. By comparing current conditions of climate and water use with future scenarios, an overview is provided of today's potential for hydroelectricity generation and its mid- and long-term prospects. The application of the global water model WaterGAP for discharge calculations allows for an integrated assessment, taking both climate and socioeconomic changes into account. This study comprises two key parts: First, the ‘gross’ hydropower potential is analyzed, in order to outline the general distribution and trends in hydropower capabilities across Europe. Then, the assessment focuses on the ‘developed’ hydropower potential of existing hydropower plants, in order to allow for a more realistic picture of present and future electricity production. For the second part, a new data set has been developed which geo-references 5991 European hydropower stations and distinguishes them into run-of-river and reservoir stations. The results of this study present strong indications that, following moderate climate and global change scenario assumptions, severe future alterations in discharge regimes have to be expected, leading to unstable regional trends in hydropower potentials with reductions of 25% and more for southern and southeastern European countries.
Energy Policy – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2005
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