The objective of this study is to estimate the impact of climate change on the hydroelectric potential of various basins across South America. Three different downscaled global climate models are used to estimate the percentage changes in rainfall and streamflow by the 2030s and 2080s under a high emission scenario in comparison to 1961–1990 baseline data. While rainfall is projected to increase slightly over the Uruguay River basin, rainfall over the Amazon and Brazil’s Northeast region is expected to decline. As a consequence of climate change, streamflow in the São Francisco River, Tocantins River and Parnaiba River is projected to decline 46%, 31% and 26%, respectively in the coming 3 decades compared to data from 1961 to 1990. Furthermore, the increasing demands for water from the São Francisco River could become greater than available streamflow by the 2030s. Additionally, one of the three climate models indicated that the São Francisco and Parnaiba Rivers’ streamflow and hydroelectric production could potentially cease in the second half of the 21st century. Despite some inconsistencies between the long-term projections from the 3 different climate models, the results of this research are important in the context of regional climate change, agricultural and energy resource planning.

Renewable Energy Vol. 173

Pieter de Jong, Tarssio B. Barreto, Clemente A.S. Tanajura, Karla P. Oliveira-Esquerre, Asher Kiperstok, Ednildo Andrade Torres

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