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The Impact of Climate Change on Swiss Hydropower

Faculty of Business and Economics, FoNEW, SCCER-CREST, University of Basel, Basel 4001, Switzerland
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Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2541; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072541
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 16 July 2018 / Accepted: 17 July 2018 / Published: 19 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydropower Production)
Hydropower represents an important pillar of electricity systems in many countries. It not only plays an important role in mitigating climate change, but is also subject to climate-change impacts. In this paper, we use the Swiss electricity market model Swissmod to study the effects of changes in water availability due to climate change on Swiss hydropower. Swissmod is an electricity dispatch model with a plant-level representation of 96% of Swiss hydropower plants and their interrelations within cascade structures. Using this detailed model in combination with spatially disaggregated climate-change runoff projections for Switzerland, we show that climate change has ambiguous impacts on hydropower and on the overall electricity system. Electricity prices and overall system costs increase under dry conditions and decrease under average or wet conditions. While the change of seasonal patterns, with a shift to higher winter runoff, has positive impacts, the overall yearly inflow varies under hydrological conditions. While average and wet years yield an increase in inflows and revenues, dry years become drier, resulting in the opposite effect. Even though different in magnitude, the direction of impacts persists when applying the same changes in inflows to the 2050 electricity system. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydropower; climate change; impact assessment; Switzerland; electricity; numerical modeling hydropower; climate change; impact assessment; Switzerland; electricity; numerical modeling
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Savelsberg, J.; Schillinger, M.; Schlecht, I.; Weigt, H. The Impact of Climate Change on Swiss Hydropower. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2541.

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