Increased hydropower but with an elevated risk of reservoir operations in India under the warming climate

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 26, Issue 2, 17 February 2023, 105986
Dipesh Singh Chuphal and Vimal Mishra

Hydropower is a significant contributor to clean global electricity generation; therefore, it plays a crucial role in climate change mitigation. Notwithstanding major hydropower dams in India are in diverse climatic regions and exposed to risks because of the warming climate, potential changes in hydroclimate remain largely unexplored. Using observations and climate projections, we demonstrate the hydroclimatic changes in the upstream catchments and their implications for the hydropower generation of 46 major hydropower dams in India. A warmer (up to 5.0°C) and wetter projected climate with a substantial increase (5.0–33%) in precipitation will lead to an increased (7–70%) inflow to reservoirs of major dams. Increased inflow will enhance (9–36%) the hydropower production for most dams in the future, with a more prominent rise in central India dams. A simultaneous rise in extreme inflow and high reservoir storage conditions is projected under future climate for most dams. However, future climate changes project a favorable hydroclimate for hydropower production, with the associated risks related to extremes.