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6 - Hydropower

from Technologies for Decarbonising the Electricity Sector

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 October 2021

Kenneth G. H. Baldwin
Australian National University, Canberra
Mark Howden
Australian National University, Canberra
Michael H. Smith
Australian National University, Canberra
Karen Hussey
University of Queensland
Peter J. Dawson
P. J. Dawson & Associates
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Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy in the world; it is expected at least to double by 2050. This chapter reviews how benefits from hydropower can be maximised while reducing environmental and social impacts. The scope for expansion of hydropower is considerable, but adverse environmental and social impacts need to be managed. Climate change is impacting hydro generation through changed snow melts and river flows, greater evaporation and more frequent extreme events, such as flooding and droughts. Hydropower infrastructure needs to have margins to cope with extreme events and adapt to changing conditions. Relicensing at specified intervals can provide a framework for renovation, removal or changes to minimise impacts and maximise benefits of dams. Planning of dams needs to be undertaken on a whole-of-river-basin scale . The World Commission on Dams (2000) recommended priorities for more sustainable development. The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is one codification of better hydropower development practices. Hydropower is important in providing storage and firming capacity to complement intermittent generation from solar and wind generators.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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