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Challenges for hydropower-based nationally determined contributions: a case study for Ecuador

Carvajal, PE; Li, FG; (2019) Challenges for hydropower-based nationally determined contributions: a case study for Ecuador. Climate Policy , 19 (8) pp. 974-987. 10.1080/14693062.2019.1617667. Green open access

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Abstract

Hydropower is the dominant renewable energy source to date, providing over two-thirds of all renewable electricity globally. For countries with significant hydropower potential, the technology is expected to play a major role in the energy transition needed to meet nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions as laid out in the Paris Agreement. For the Republic of Ecuador, large hydropower is currently considered as the main means for attaining energy security, reducing electricity prices and mitigating GHG emissions in the long-term. However, uncertainty around the impacts of climate change, investment cost overruns and restrictions to untapped resources may challenge the future deployment of hydropower and consequently impact decarbonisation efforts for Ecuador’s power sector. To address these questions, a partial equilibrium energy system optimisation model for Ecuador (TIMES-EC) is used to simulate alternative electricity capacity expansion scenarios up to 2050. Results show that the share of total electricity supplied by hydropower in Ecuador might vary significantly between 53% to 81% by 2050. Restricting large hydropower due to social-environmental constraints can cause a fourfold increase in cumulative emissions compared to NDC implied levels, while a 25% reduction of hydropower availability due to climate change would cause cumulative emissions to double. In comparison, a more diversified power system (although more expensive) which limits the share of large hydropower and natural gas in favour of other renewables could achieve the expected NDC emission levels. These insights underscore the critical importance of undertaking detailed whole energy system analyses to assess the long-term challenges for hydropower deployment and the trade-offs among power system configuration, system costs and expected GHG emissions in hydropower-dependent countries, states and territories.

Type: Article
Title: Challenges for hydropower-based nationally determined contributions: a case study for Ecuador
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2019.1617667
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2019.1617667
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Hydropower, NDC, Ecuador, energy modelling, renewable energy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10081761
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