Category: Energy

First ever assessment of climate change influence on India’s hydropower plants points to increased generation potential

First ever assessment of climate change influence on India’s hydropower plants points to increased generation potential

Will Bugler

Climate change will have a significant impact on India’s hydropower plants, according to a new study. Changes in rainfall patterns, snowmelt and streamflow in India’s major rivers however, will affect the design and operation of India’s planned and current hydro plants. Amazingly however, the role of climate change on hydroelectric facilities in the country remains largely unexplored.

India is the world’s 7th largest producer of hydropower, and the predictable, low-carbon energy source is vitally important for the country’s ambitions to improve energy supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions. With India’s population continuing to grow, the demand for clean energy will rise in the coming years. Hydropower offers considerable potential to meet some of this demand. Estimates suggest that the country uses less than 20 % of its total hydropower potential.

Dams must be built to last

As with other large infrastructure developments, proper consideration of climate change on hydroelectric facilities is essential. The lifespan of a large, concrete dam can extend to well over 100 years. A hydropower dam built today will be operational in a considerably different climate in its later life.

The study, undertaken by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, provides the first-ever assessment of climate change impacts on the hydropower potential of 7 large hydropower projects in India. Each facility has an installed capacity of over 300 MW, and most are among the top 10 largest hydropower projects in the country.

The study found that all 7 reservoirs studied are projected to experience greater levels of overall rainfall by the end of the century, with some being up to 18% wetter than today. However, the increase in rainfall will not be evenly spread throughout the year. The authors expect that much of the increase will fall as heavy, monsoon rains. This means that the hydro-electric dams may have to withstand more severe flood events than have been previously experienced. It also means that streamflow will not increase throughout the year, meaning that the increased rainfall is unlikely to be matched by a similar increase in electricity generation potential.

The study also found that snow cover is likely to decline affecting several catchments of hydroelectric facilities. This decline in snow cover will mean reduce its contribution to streamflow in the winter season.

Other factors affect streamflow

Overall, the study found that that there would be an increase in streamflow for the 7 hydropower facilities, and that with good planning, India could increase its overall generation from hydropower. Planners should take account of climate-driven changes in streamflow to best capitalise on these changes.

To do this, it will be important to consider other factors, notably the changing demand for irrigation. Increased irrigation demand can have a significant effect on streamflow and reduce hydropower production capacity. If rain falls over shorter periods of time and in more intense bursts, the demand for irrigation in the longer dry periods is likely to rise. This could offset some of the potential increase in generation.

Other factors such as changing land-use patterns will also have significant impacts on India’s hydropower production capacity. However, it is clear from this study that climate change will have significant influence on the streamflow that reaches each facility. As streamflow is highly localised, and dependent of many contributing factors relating to local geography, assessments should be carried out on all current and proposed hydropower plants to assess how they will operate under various climate scenarios.

The study Projected Increase in Hydropower Production in India under Climate Change can be found here.


Kumar, A., Kumar, K., Kaushik, N., Sharma, S. & Mishra, S. Renewable energy in India: Current status and future potentials. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 14, 2434–2442 (2010).

Cover photo by Thangaraj Kumaravel/Flickr (CC BY 2.0): Sharavathi hydroelectric power plant view.
How can cities reduce water-energy nexus pressures?

How can cities reduce water-energy nexus pressures?

By Robert C. Brears

Cities over the past century have become the driving force of the global economy. Accounting for over half the world’s population and generating around 80% of global GDP, cities provide numerous opportunities for development and growth. Cities however bring about risks and challenges to people and the environment. By 2050, demand for water is projected to increase by 55% mainly due to increased demand from urban populations. At the same time demand for energy in providing water and wastewater treatment services will increase.

Water and energy interconnected

Energy and water are interlinked in two ways, first, water is used in the production of nearly all types of energy (coal, geothermal, hydro, oil and gas, nuclear), and second, energy is the dominant cost factor in the provision of water and wastewater services (extracting and conveying water, treating water, distributing water, using water and collecting and treating wastewater). In fact, energy can account for up to 30% of total operating costs of water and wastewater utilities: in some developing countries this can be as high as 40% of the total operating cost. Meanwhile, on average 15% of the world’s total water withdrawals are used for energy production.

Reducing water-energy nexus pressures

Cities around the world have nonetheless initiated innovative processes that attempt to disconnect rising urban populations from increased demand for water and energy. Examples include Dubai of the UAE and Phnom Penh of Cambodia using technological and management innovations to reduce urban water-energy nexus pressures.

Case 1: Smart meters in Dubai

In its pursuit of being water and energy smart the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is installing smart meters across the Emirate enabling customers to receive real-time information on water and energy consumption. This will enable them to monitor actual consumption to better understand and manage bills. Specifically, in addition to providing current consumption data, DEWA’s smart meters will provide customers with historical consumption data as well as a breakdown of consumption processes that use water and energy. This will enable customers to identify water and energy efficiencies in their homes. The smart meter data is delivered to customers’ smartphones or tables via DEWA’s Smart App, allowing them to view billing information, graphs to check and compare consumption as well as set caps for both water and electricity consumption. Overall DEWA aims to have 1.2 million meters installed within 5 years. The installation of the smart meters will be in two stages:

  1. Smart meter installation: 200,000 smart meters will be installed all over Dubai which will be connected to a new advanced computerized system and software.
  2. DEWA will install the remaining smart meters. Enhancements of the operating system will be performed in conjunction with increasing the number of installed meters.

Case 2: Phnom Penh reducing its leakage rate

Phnom Penh’s Water Supply Authority has a non-revenue water (NRW) rate of around 7%, which is one of the lowest rates in the world. To reduce leakage, as well as energy required in treating water to potable standards – nearly 45% of the Authority’s operating cost is attributed to energy consumption – the Authority has installed a telemeter system that detects high leakages and illegal connections in different zones of the water supply system. To detect leakages more efficiently the city has been divided into 58 sub-zones each with its own local leak detection system. To ensure leaks are fixed rapidly the utility has leak repair teams on standby that operate 24/7, with the response time being two hours after a leak is detected. To ensure the utility is proactive in detecting leaks the Authority has established leak detection teams that are offered incentives to find leaks throughout the water supply system: to become more efficient in its operations incentives have become an important element of the Authority’s staff remuneration.  At the end of each year the utility’s NRW Committee reviews all leakage work and analyses each leak detection teams’ performance. The most efficient teams – based on the ratio of leaks at the start of the year with the end of the year – are rewarded monetarily, with some technicians having received rewards of up to 25% of their annual salaries.

With rapid urbanization increasing demand for water, and energy, cities around the world are exploring a variety of technological and management innovations to reduce urban water-energy nexus pressures.


Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). He is the founder of Mitidaption, Mark and Focus, is Director on the International Board of the Indo Global Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, and a Visiting Fellow (non-resident) at the Center for Conflict Studies at MIIS, Monterey, USA.

This article originally appeared on The Water Blog and is shared with kind permission. Read the original article here.

Cover photo by eladg/Pixabay (public domain).

Low awareness of climate risks hampering resilience of critical infrastructure sectors claims new study

Low awareness of climate risks hampering resilience of critical infrastructure sectors claims new study

Low levels of awareness of climate risks and the availability of climate services are significant barriers to climate adaptation in the electricity sector, according to new research from Germany. However, the research also finds that the underlying market opportunity for climate services remains strong.

Damage to a critical infrastructure, its destruction or disruption by for example natural disasters, will have a significant negative impact on the security of the EU and the well-being of its citizens. Focussing on the German electricity sector, the report found that stakeholders in the sector claimed to need seasonal forecasts and decadal predictions, the latter aligning closely with energy companies’ time frames for strategic planning. However, despite this, there is currently a low level of demand for climate services from the sector.

The report found that four major barriers prevented the uptake of climate services:

  1. low awareness of the climate-related risks,
  2. low awareness of the benefits climate services can provide,
  3. mismatches between the required and the available timescales and spatial resolution of data and
  4. a lack of trust in the reliability of data.

In order to overcome these hurdles, the report recommends that considerable work needs to be done in the first instance to increase the visibility of the climate services industry and how it can contribute to the climate resilience of key sectors. It proposes that a ‘Climate Service Provider Store’ is created to provide information about where appropriate climate service providers are available.

Additionally, the case study recommends that work continues to ensure that seasonal and decadal forecast become ever-more accurate and that regional cooperation between industry networks and climate services providers are strengthened.

The case study was led by the non-profit research organization HZG under the MArket Research for a Climate Services Observatory (MARCO) programme of which Acclimatise is a proud partner. MARCO, a 2-year project coordinated by European Climate-KIC, hopes that research such as this will help to remove the barriers to the growth of the climate services industry across Europe.


Download the full case study “Critical Energy Infrastructureshere.

Download an infographic highlighting the key findings of the case study here.

Cover photo from pxhere (public domain).
Oil and gas sector confidence is soaring… and it’s down to climate change.

Oil and gas sector confidence is soaring… and it’s down to climate change.

By Will Bugler

When all is said and done, tackling climate change will require a sustained transition away from fossil fuels. Coal and oil will have to be left in the ground. So why then, in the face of this inescapable reality, does a recent study suggest that confidence levels amongst senior oil and gas executives have nearly doubled in the last 12 months?

The findings come from a survey from the Norwegian global quality assurance firm DNV GL, who interviewed 800 senior oil and gas executives and found that confidence has risen from 32 percent in 2017 to 63 percent today. This optimism is backed up by company plans to increase capital expenditure, with 66 percent of companies planning to invest in the coming year. More than a third of respondents (36 percent) also expect to increase research and development spending – the highest number in four years.

Embracing transition

The reason for the upsurge in confidence appears to be based on a belief that oil and gas companies are preparing well for the transition to a low carbon economy. Tellingly, for the first time in eight years, industry confidence is rising faster than the global oil price. High fossil fuel prices, it appears, are no longer the sole driver of industry prosperity. This suggests that many executives are confident that their businesses have evolved enough to thrive even when fuel prices are low.

Maria Moræus Hanssen, CEO of Dutch oil and gas firm DEA says that the transition is underway in the sector, “the majors will turn into energy companies – they will broaden their portfolios” she said, “partly because there are strong investment opportunities outside oil and gas, and partly to position themselves for a changing future.”

This sentiment was echoed by many respondents to the DNV GL survey, with several predicting more regulatory and social pressure for firms to make a transition to clean energy. “The greatest looming challenge for oil and gas companies is how they adapt to the energy transition,” says DNV GL’s Bente Pretlove, “there will likely be greater regulatory and social pressure forcing the industry towards decarbonisation. To succeed, the industry will need to make the right investments and harness technology and innovation more than ever.”

Opportunities for investment

While the transition to a low carbon economy is often cast as a risk to the sector, this research suggests that there will be significant opportunities for those firms who take early action to invest in low-carbon energy, and in measures to increase the resilience of their operations to climate change and its impacts. “We see the future for cost-effective, low-carbon power generation as really about renewables plus gas.” Mark Gainsborough, executive vice president of New Energies at Shell, “a challenge going forward will be to invest more consistently, to maintain our purpose over time, and not be too disrupted by short-term changes.”

The fact that oil and gas companies are taking a long-term view with regards to climate change is a promising sign. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where energy security can be maintained in the face of climate impacts that does not involve the cooperation, skill and power of the oil and gas majors. Their willingness to embrace the energy transition and drive systemic change in the sector is significant for sectoral climate resilience.


A copy of the report “Confidence and control: The outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2018″ can be downloaded here.

Cover photo by Berardo62/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0): Oil rigs moored in Cromarty Firth. Invergordon, Scotland, UK.
Air conditioning could wreck climate targets unless new technologies emerge

Air conditioning could wreck climate targets unless new technologies emerge

By Caroline Fouvet

Keeping cool as the mercury rises is a challenge for billions of people living in hot climates. As temperatures climb into the 40s or even 50s in many regions of the world, like the Middle East and Asia, air conditioning in homes and offices becomes a necessity. However, the increased need for cooling comes at a cost.

Since the Montreal Protocol, it has been acknowledged that cooling devices entail ozone-depleting substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The Protocol’s implementation after 1987 successfully resulted in their progressive phasing out, but the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that replaced them, turned out to be potent greenhouse gases. Since households from both developed and developing countries are buying more and more air conditioning units and other cooling devices, this is problematic. It has been calculated that if all air conditioning equipment entering the world market uses current technology, they will be responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Fighting warm temperatures can also put countries’ grids under pressure and lead to power outages. In India, where people are familiar with heatwaves, the resulting surge in electricity demand causes major power disruptions and forces the government to impose power cuts on malls and street lights. In 2014, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the energy demand reached 11,000 megawatts, which is 3,000 megawatts over the grid’s total capacity.

Providing cooling options during hot summer months at the global level is necessary to avoid substantial human and economic losses. Current adaptation methods to a hot climate are threatening to undermine climate policy goals, as they often result in higher greenhouse gas emissions. Adapting to increasingly warm summer months will require improved responses to provide efficient cooling. Green cooling technologies that are less energy intensive are desperately needed.


Cover photo by Sławomir Kowalewski/Pixabay (public domain): Air conditioning units on a building in China.
An investors’ guide to a sustainable oil and gas sector

An investors’ guide to a sustainable oil and gas sector

By Caroline Fouvet

As the oil and gas sector is today the global largest source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), it has a crucial role to play in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Achieving the 1.5°C objective will necessarily involve a drastic reduction in the sector’s current emissions from extraction, transportation and processing activities.

It is in this context that global investors published last month a guide to highlight which actions are required from the oil and gas sector to address climate change risks. Investor Expectations for Oil and Gas Companies: Transition to a Lower Carbon Future mainly focuses on how companies’ business strategies consider climate change-induced risks and enable their transition to a sustainable low carbon energy system.

The five areas that are reviewed, namely governance, strategy, implementation, transparency and disclosure together with public policy, bring out investors’ main concerns. Does management ensure adequate oversight of climate-related risks? Does the company engage with public policy makers to support development of cost-effective policy measures to mitigate climate-related risks and low carbon investments?

It is on these issues that the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) aims to shed light and intends to help the oil and gas sector adapt its business model to climate change and comply with international regulations. Asset owners and fund managers are concerned with the sector’s consideration of global warming’s impact and policy rules as trillion of dollars are at stake. Investors hence want the guarantee that companies are well prepared both to tackle the effects of climate change as well as to abide by the international requirements set in this respect.

The IIGCC’s guide reflects the international community’s endeavours to make of the Paris Agreement’s provisions a reality at the global level. It also highlights how the private sector has as a vital role to play as policy makers, and that large-scale actions are to be expected from businesses too.

Download the report by clicking here.


Cover photo by WerbeFabrik/Pixabay (Public Domain)