Impacts of Climate Change and Climate Variability on Hydropower Potential in Data-Scarce Regions Subjected to Multi-decadal variability

Pedro Arriagada, Bastien Dieppois, Moussa Sidibe, Oscar Link

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)
    54 Downloads (Pure)


    To achieve sustainable development of hydroelectric resources, it is necessary to understand their availability, variability, and the expected impacts of climate change. Current research has mainly focused on estimating hydropower potential or determining the optimal locations for hydropower projects without considering the variability and historical trends of the resources. Herein, the hydropower potential variability from reconstructed streamflow series estimated with a non-parametric gap-filling method and geographic information systems (GIS) techniques are analyzed. The relationships between hydropower and large-scale climate variability, expressed by sea surface temperature, are explored. Finally, we project hydropower potential through 2050 using 15 global circulation models with representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5. We used four watersheds in central Chile as a case study. The results show significant interannual and inter-basin hydropower potential variability, with decreasing trends over time modulated by alternating positive and negative decadal trends; these modulations exhibit greater intensities than the general trends and are attributable to climatic oscillations such as El Niño. Future scenarios indicate high hydropower availability and a possible over-investment in hydroelectric plants in two of the four studied watersheds. Results show the need to improve the current policies that promote hydropower development including hydropower resource variability in order to achieve optimal, sustainable hydropower development worldwide.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2747
    Number of pages20
    Issue number14
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2019

    Bibliographical note

    © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
    (CC BY) license (


    • Climate oscillations
    • Climate variability
    • Future hydropower scenarios
    • Hydropower potential variability

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
    • Energy (miscellaneous)
    • Control and Optimization
    • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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