Optimal operation of reservoirs is very essential for water resource planning and management, but it is very challenging and complicated when dealing with climate change impacts. The objective of this paper was to assess existing and future hydropower operation at the Tekeze reservoir in the face of climate change. In this study, a calibrated and validated Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used to model runoff inflow into the Tekeze hydropower reservoir under present and future climate scenarios. Inflow to the reservoir was simulated using hydro-climatic data from an ensemble of downscaled climate data based on the Coordinated Regional climate Downscaling Experiment over African domain (CORDEX-Africa) with Coupled Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) simulations under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP)4.5 and RCP8.5 climate scenarios. Observed and projected inflows to Tekeze hydropower reservoir were used as input to the US Army Corps of Engineer’s Reservoir Evaluation System Perspective Reservoir Model (HEC-ResPRM), a reservoir operation model, to optimize hydropower reservoir release, storage and pool level. Results indicated that climate change has a clear impact on reservoir inflow and showed increase in annual and monthly inflow into the reservoir except in dry months from May to June under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 climate scenarios. HEC-ResPRM optimal operation results showed an increase in Tekeze reservoir power storage potential up to 25% and 30% under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 climate scenarios, respectively. This implies that Tekeze hydropower production will be affected by climate change. This analysis can be used by water resources planners and mangers to develop reservoir operation techniques considering climate change impact to increase power production.
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