Climate change mitigation will require substantial investments in renewables. In addition, climate change will affect future renewable supply and hence, power sector investment requirements. We study the implications of climate impacts on renewables for power sector investments under deep decarbonization using a global integrated assessment model. We focus on Latin American and Caribbean, an under-studied region but of great interest due to its strong role in international climate mitigation and vulnerability to climate change. We find that accounting for climate impacts on renewables results in significant additional investments ($12–114 billion by 2100 across Latin American countries) for a region with weak financial infrastructure. We also demonstrate that accounting for climate impacts only on hydropower—a primary focus of previous studies—significantly underestimates cumulative investments, particularly in scenarios with high intermittent renewable deployment. Our study underscores the importance of comprehensive analyses of climate impacts on renewables for improved energy planning.
Tackling climate change and human development challenges will require major global investments in renewable energy systems, including possibly into large hydropower. Despite well-known impacts of hydropower dams, most renewable energy assessments neither account for externalities of hydropower nor evaluate possible strategic alternatives. Here we demonstrate how integrating energy systems modeling and strategic hydropower planning can resolve conflicts between renewable energy and dam impacts on rivers. We apply these tools to Myanmar, whose rivers are the last free-flowing rivers of Asia, and where business-as-usual (BAU) plans call for up to 40 GW of new hydropower. We present alternative energy futures that rely more on scalable wind and solar, and less on hydropower (6.7–10.3 GW) than the BAU. Reduced reliance on hydropower allows us to use river basin models to strategically design dam portfolios for minimized impact. Thus, our alternative futures result in greatly reduced impacts on rivers in terms of sediment trapping and habitat fragmentation, and result in lower system costs ($8.4 billion compared to $11.7 billion for the BAU). Our results highlight specific opportunities for Myanmar but also demonstrate global techno-ecological synergies between climate action, equitable human development and conservation of riparian ecosystems and livelihoods.
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Environmental Research Letters
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- Article No. 054054
- IOP Publishing
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Power sector investment implications of climate impacts on renewable resources in Latin America and the Caribbean
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