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Climate change or energy policies: What matters most for alpine hydropower? a new paper on WRR

wrcr23658-fig-0005Scientific literature has mostly focused on the analysis of climate change impacts on hydropower operations, underrating the consequences of energy policies, for example, increase in Variable Renewable Sources (VRSs) and CO2 emission permit price, on hydropower productivity and profitability. We contribute a modeling framework to assess the impacts of different climate change and energy policies on the operations of hydropower reservoir systems in the Alps. Our approach is characterized by the following: (i) the use of a physically explicit hydrological model to assess future water availability; (ii) the consideration of electricity price scenarios obtained from an electricity market model accounting for the future projected European energy strategies; and (iii) the use of optimization techniques to design hydropower system operations in response to the projected changes. Through the application to the Mattmark system, a snow‐ and ice‐dominated hydropower system in Switzerland, we demonstrate how the framework is effective in exploring the sensitivity of Alpine hydropower to changes in water availability and electricity price, in quantifying the uncertainties associated to these projections and in identifying the value of reoperation strategies. The paper is available open access  HERE.

NRM Group visits HUNRE

After quite some time NRMGroup is back to Hanoi for a joint workshop with the Hanoi University of Natural Resources and the Environment (HUNRE), a young and dynamic university recently funded under the MONRE (Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment). The workshop, organized with the support of the Italian Embassy in Hanoi ,focused on recent research results on the two main Vietnamese river basins, Mekong and Red River, with HUNRE colleagues, and researchers from NAWAPI and WRI. The workshop was also a great of opportunity of reunion with former NRMGroup PhD students, Dr. Van Ahn Truong, now lecturer and head of faculty at HUNRE (congratulations Van Ahn!).

Strategic planning of dams on the Mekong: a new paper on Nature Sustainability

Dams in the Mekong Basin are mostly planned project-by-project and without strategic analysis of their cumulative impacts on river processes such as sediment connectivity. We analyse missed and future opportunities for reducing hydropower impacts on sediment connectivity through strategic planning of dams in the Se Kong, Se San and Sre Pok (‘3S’) tributaries of the lower Mekong, which are critically important as a source of sand for the Mekong Delta. With strategic planning, 68% of the hydropower potential of the 3S Basin could have been developed while trapping 21% of the basin’s sand load. The current dam portfolio resulting from project-by-project planning uses 54% of the hydropower potential while trapping 91% of the sand load. Results from the 3S demonstrate that strategic network-scale planning is crucial for developing lower-impact hydropower, a relevant finding given the at least 3,700 major dams that are proposed worldwide. More HERE

Ezra’s Round Table/Systems Seminar @Cornell

Andrea Castelletti has been invited to the  Ezra’s Round Table System Seminar series at Cornell University to talk about the NRM group’s research on the Italian lake district. The title of the talk was Soft-Path solutions for hard water problems: a journey in the drying Italian sub-alpine lake district. Ongoing changes in global climate are altering the hydrologic regime, expanding historically observed variability as well as increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme events. Evidence of this emerging behavior has been observed worldwide, including traditionally flood sensitive regions, such as the Italian Alps, where intensive droughts have repeatedly challenged agricultural and hydropower production in the last decade. Extensive model-based analyses carried out by the NRM group show that a soft-path approach can substantially mitigate the impact of changing climate, and help contrasting increasingly frequent and impacting droughts with little financial investment but a substantial shift in the existing water governance.  The webcast of the talk is  available here