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Climate impacts on hydropower in Colombia: A multi-model assessment of power sector adaptation pathways

Arango-Aramburo, Santiago, Turner, Sean W.D., Daenzer, Kathryn, Ríos-Ocampo, Juan Pablo, Hejazi, Mohamad I., Kober, Tom, Álvarez-Espinosa, Andrés C., Romero-Otalora, Germán D., van der Zwaan, Bob
Energy policy 2019 v.128 pp. 179-188
carbon sequestration, climate, climate change, drying, environmental policy, mineral resources, models, radiative forcing, solar energy, water power, wind power, Colombia
Climate change is likely to affect water availability and therefore hydropower generation in many regions of the world. In drying regions, hydropower generation may be impaired, creating a need for new power investments that would otherwise have been unnecessary. In this study we apply two partial equilibrium models (GCAM and TIAM-ECN) and two general equilibrium models (MEG4C and Phoenix) to identify possible pathways of power sector adaptation for Colombia under climate change. We adopt two GCM projections that deteriorate hydropower generation over the next three decades, and simulate each for two radiative forcing scenarios (RCP8.5 and RCP4.5). Relative to Colombia's projected power demand growth over the coming decades, losses in hydropower generation are marginal. Nonetheless, climate-driven losses in hydropower must be compensated by alternative technologies´expansion, which vary significantly across models. When climate policy is implemented (RCP4.5), three distinct expansion pathways emerge: increased solar and wind energy (TIAM-ECN); significant power demand reductions (Phoenix and MEG4C); and increased fossil resources with carbon dioxide capture and storage (GCAM). We show the need to explore the tradeoffs/synergies among alternative expansion pathways and their potential impacts on other sectors (e.g. water and land), and for effective policies to incentivize their adoption in Colombia.