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Assessment of Maximum and Residual Hydropower Potential Under Global Changes: La Plata Basin

Author(s): Luigia Brandimarte; Maximo Peviani; Ioana Popescu

Linked Author(s): Ioana Popescu

Keywords: No Keywords

Abstract: Allocation and exploitation of water resources is more and more constrained by global changes: population growth, economical development, urbanization, changes in hydrological regimes and land. The energy demand and production in emerging countries is even more sensitive to the effect of the global drivers. Moreover, when these emerging countries share the fifth largest river basin in the world, then the need for assessing the maximum potential hydropower is of paramount importance. This is the case of La Plata basin, a transboundary river basin shared by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The aim of this research is to assess whether (and when) shortage and vulnerabilities in terms of hydropower generation are to be expected in La Plata basin in the next decades, taking into account the effects of economic development, population growth, land use changes and changes of cropping pattern, agricultural, industrial and infrastructure development. The methodology proposed has focused on two aspects to reach the objectives: 1) assessment of hydropower production and electricity demand in the basin over the last twenty years (1987–2008), in order to establish growing trends for the short term, 2040; 2) computation of maximum and residual hydropower potential using the newly developed Arc-GIS based tool VAPIDRO–ASTE. The first outcomes of this research show that La Plata Basin has high hydropower potential. About 40% of the hydropower potential is already used to produce and supply energy. Out of the remaining 60% potential, about 25% could hardly be exploited because of environmental issues or low cost/benefit ratio. Thus, the estimated residual potential hydropower is about 35% of the maximum potential hydropower calculated.


Year: 2012

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