Climate change will affect Nepal’s hydropower capacity, says report

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    ‘Snow-fed river flow will decrease after a certain point’

    KATHMANDU, April 28:

    hydro_artClimate change is most likely to impact Nepal’s hydropower production capacity over the next few decades by affecting river flow especially during the dry season, states a report released on Monday. 

    The report, which was prepared by a team of experts backed by a steering committee consisting of high-level government authorities, also states that the impact of climate change on Nepal’s hydropower production capacity will lead to the need for more investment for meeting the country’s hydroelectricity demand by 2050. 

    In order to find out how climate change will be impacting Nepal’s hydropower production capacity, the team has looked at several scenarios — most importantly the decrease in river flow during the dry season. Looking at this scenario, the report warns that hydroelectricity generation would require more investment in future. 

    “When our existing rivers have less water flow, we might have to build more hydropower projects,” said Dr Govinda Nepal, leader of the team that prepared the report titled as ‘Economic Impact Assessment of Climate Change for Key Risks in Nepal. “If we need to build more plants with greater capacities, we need more investment.” 

    Works related to meeting an additional hydroelectricity demand of 2,800 megawatt by 2050 will increase the sector investment cost by US $ 2.6 billion for over the next four decades, says the report. 

    Climate scientists say that the Himalayan glaciers will melt as a result of global warming for the next few decades, while increasing snow-fed rivers that flow through Nepal. 

    However, after a certain point, snow-fed river flow will decrease as much of the Himalayan glaciers will have already melted by then. Recent reports by the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have also confirmed it. 

    The report, which was published by Integrated Development Society Nepal (IDS-Nepal), Practical Action Consulting (PAC) and Global Climate Action Adaptation Partnership (GCAP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, is consistent with what the IPCC reports have stated in the past.

    In Nepal, all hydropower projects, except for one in Kulekhani of Makwanpur district, are based on the run-of-the river models. The decrease in dry-season river flow is expected to affect these types of projects badly. However, reservoir-based hydropower project, too, will not remain unaffected, says the report. 

    The report, which was unveiled by Energy Minister Radha Gyawali in Kathmandu, paints a gloomy picture of Nepal’s hydropower prospect against the backdrop of climate change at a time when the people in Nepal are reeling under up to 14-hour-long power outage. 

    The report also hints at possibility that Nepal might have to opt for thermal plants, which are notorious for greenhouse gas emissions, in case of inability to secure more investment for upgrading existing hydropower plants and building new ones. “Setting up of thermal plants will worsen effects of climate change,” said Dr Nepal.

    The report, the final version of which is yet to be published, also looks at impacts that climate change will have on agriculture and water-induced disasters. 

    The report is released at a time when Nepal is hosting eighth international conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA) in Kathmandu. Experts say the findings of the report could be useful for the participants of the CBA conference in exerting pressure on the developed countries to provide more financial assistance to developing countries like Nepal for adaptation to the impacts of climate change. 

    “In a country like Nepal where finding reliable data is very difficult, preparing a report that assesses economic cost of climate change is a huge task,” said Ali Taeqeer Sheikh, Asia Director of Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), one of the funding agencies for the report. “However, we insisted on undertaking the task as it gives Nepal a clear agenda for negotiations (with donors for financial assistance).

    Sheikh also said that no other country in South Asia has so far published a report that assesses how climate change will be affecting different economic sectors including hydropower. “Even my country has not done it,” said Sheikh, who hails from Pakistan. 

    Source : Republica