The potential impacts of climate change on hydropower generation in Mid Wales

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Hydropower is a potential large source of electricity supply in Wales. The Upper River Severn in Mid Wales is a typical stream where a high head hydropower scheme could be developed and the river system at Plynlimon has some of the longest records for weather and flow in Wales. A micro-hydropower potential of 99 kW is demonstrated at Plynlimon and the potential impacts of climate change are simulated to assess the effects on flows and power outputs of such schemes under climate uncertainty. Based on UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) projections, the impacts of climate change are to significantly decrease both the stream flows and energy production during summer months but to increase flows and power production in the winter, with a net tendency to cancel out over the course of a full year. A methodology for assessing impacts of climate change on hydropower is established, which could be applied more widely to other potential hydropower sites such as lowland rivers or high base flow rivers in other parts of the UK. This will be useful for developers, water companies and environmental agencies to assess hydropower potential, economic viability and environmental impacts of micro-hydropower, under future climate change.

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