Modeling future changes in the North-Estonian hydropower production by using SWAT

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Climate change is altering temperature, precipitation, and other climatic parameters, affecting sectors dependent on water resources, e.g. energy production. The purpose of this study is to analyze the possible influences of climate change on hydropower potential in North Estonia. In Estonian run-of-river hydropower plants, energy comes mainly from water volume. Thus, changes in hydropower production are related to changes in river runoff. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model is used to study runoff responses to climate change in Kunda, Keila and Valgejõe river basins. A sequential uncertainty fitting algorithm is used for calibration and validation of hydrological models. Two modeling studies from EURO-CORDEX high-resolution simulations are used: RACMO regional climate model (RCM) from the Netherlands (KNMI) and HIRHAM5 RCM from Denmark (DMI). Hydrological model efficiency is evaluated with coefficient of determination (R2), Nash–Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE) and percent bias (PBIAS). The NSE values range from 0.71 to 0.77 during calibration and validation. The PBIAS reveals no significant bias. Daily discharge data of the baseline period (1971–2000) and the future period (2071–2100) for KNMI and DMI scenarios reveal an overall increase in hydropower potential. Larger changes are predicted by the DMI model, while KNMI prediction is lower, 25% and 45% respectively.

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