In this paper, the impact of climate change on the climate and discharge of the Dez Dam Basin and the hydropower potential of two hydropower plants (Bakhtiari and Dez) is investigated based on the downscaled outputs of six GCMs (General Circulation Models) and three SRES (Special Report on Emission Scenarios) scenarios for the early, mid and late 21st century. Projections of all the scenarios and GCMs revealed a significant rise in temperature (up to 4.9 °C) and slight to moderate variation in precipitation (up to 18%). Outputs of the HBV hydrologic model, enforced by projected datasets, show a reduction of the annual flow by 33% under the climate change condition. Further, analyzing the induced changes in the inflow and hydropower generation potential of the Bakhtiari and Dez dams showed that both inflow and hydropower generation is significantly affected by climate change. For the Bakhtiari dam, this indicates a consistent reduction of inflow (up to 27%) and electricity generation (up to 32%). While, in the Dez dam case, the inflow is projected to decrease (up to 22%) and the corresponding hydropower is expected to slightly increase (up to 3%). This contrasting result for the Dez dam is assessed based on its reservoir and hydropower plant capacity, as well as other factors such as the timely releases to meet different demands and flow regime changes under climate change. The results show that the Bakhtiari reservoir and power plant will not meet the design-capacity outputs under the climate change condition as its large capacity cannot be fully utilized; while there is room for the further development of the Dez power plant. Comparing the results of the applied GCMs showed high discrepancies among the outputs of different models.
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