In a changing climate and society, large storage systems can play a key role for securing water, energy, and food, and rebalancing their cross-dependencies. In this letter, we study the role of large storage operations as flexible means of adaptation to climate change. In particular, we explore the impacts of different climate projections for different future time horizons on the multi-purpose operations of the existing system of large dams in the Red River basin (China–Laos–Vietnam). We identify the main vulnerabilities of current system operations, understand the risk of failure across sectors by exploring the evolution of the system tradeoffs, quantify how the uncertainty associated to climate scenarios is expanded by the storage operations, and assess the expected costs if no adaptation is implemented. Results show that, depending on the climate scenario and the time horizon considered, the existing operations are predicted to change on average from -7 to +5% in hydropower production, +35 to +520% in flood damages, and +15 to +160% in water supply deficit. These negative impacts can be partially mitigated by adapting the existing operations to future climate, reducing the loss of hydropower to 5%, potentially saving around 34.4 million US$ year-1 at the national scale. Since the Red River is paradigmatic of many river basins across south east Asia, where new large dams are under construction or are planned to support fast growing economies, our results can support policy makers in prioritizing responses and adaptation strategies to the changing climate.

Large storage operations under climate change: Expanding uncertainties and evolving tradeoffs

GIULIANI, MATTEO;CASTELLETTI, ANDREA FRANCESCO;SONCINI SESSA, RODOLFO
2016-01-01

Abstract

In a changing climate and society, large storage systems can play a key role for securing water, energy, and food, and rebalancing their cross-dependencies. In this letter, we study the role of large storage operations as flexible means of adaptation to climate change. In particular, we explore the impacts of different climate projections for different future time horizons on the multi-purpose operations of the existing system of large dams in the Red River basin (China–Laos–Vietnam). We identify the main vulnerabilities of current system operations, understand the risk of failure across sectors by exploring the evolution of the system tradeoffs, quantify how the uncertainty associated to climate scenarios is expanded by the storage operations, and assess the expected costs if no adaptation is implemented. Results show that, depending on the climate scenario and the time horizon considered, the existing operations are predicted to change on average from -7 to +5% in hydropower production, +35 to +520% in flood damages, and +15 to +160% in water supply deficit. These negative impacts can be partially mitigated by adapting the existing operations to future climate, reducing the loss of hydropower to 5%, potentially saving around 34.4 million US$ year-1 at the national scale. Since the Red River is paradigmatic of many river basins across south east Asia, where new large dams are under construction or are planned to support fast growing economies, our results can support policy makers in prioritizing responses and adaptation strategies to the changing climate.
climate change; water storage operation; water-energy-food security;
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/984567
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