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Local Impacts of Climate Change on Fortum´s Hydropower Production
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Civil and Architectural Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 300 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background: Climate change and the consequences of global warming is probably one of the greatest issues of our time. Among other concerns, global warming is thought to have a great impact on hydrology worldwide. When the atmosphere warms up, river runoff patterns are altered. Nevertheless these future changes are assumed to increase the hydropower potential in some countries. In the public debate it is often referred to a nine year old investigation claiming an increase of 15-20 % in Swedish energy production from hydropower due to the river runoff increase. On the other hand recent research is hinting that the effect of global warming might be masked by climate variability in the nearest future. This study seeks to investigate whether or not the hydropower-intensive company Fortum will benefit from increased future hydropower potential due to climate change.

Methods: Using historical data, the impacts of global warming on the future potential power production in different types of hydropower plants are estimated by the statistical approach of probability density functions. Moreover spectral analysis is used to investigate the impacts of climate variability in various Swedish watersheds. The study investigates both the nearest future, represented by the years 2021-2050, and the end of the century, represented by the years 2069-2098.

Results: The future hydropower production is shown to be strongly dependent on the geographical location of a power plant and of the specific power plant type. Although all Swedish rivers where Fortum operates is given more river runoff in the future, some hydropower plants might  suffer from lower hydropower potential due to increased runoff variability. However all reservoir-type power plants in the study, with ability to store water, are calculated to benefit from increased river runoff. Only the run-of-river type power plants, operating with unregulated river flow, are not yet proven to benefit from a changing climate. When considering both specific river and type of power plant, this study indicates that the hydropower potential in the rivers where Fortum operates is expected to increase with 4-15 % towards the end of the century. The one exception is the unregulated river Västerdalälven where this study indicates a possibility of decreased hydropower potential due to climate change. The results of the spectral analysis indicates that up to 30 % of the coefficient of variation in the  monthly mean runoff data is explained by low-frequent periodic fluctuations due to natural climate variability, linked to somewhat predictable climate indices.

Conclusion: Natural climate variability is likely to be the dominating factor in the nearest future, at least in regulated rivers. Although there are uncertainties about the future potential power production in the run-of-river type power plants, one cannot deny that most of the Swedish rivers where the major hydropower companies operate are strongly regulated. Adding the fact that river runoff will increase as a consequence of global warming, Fortum is likely to gain from an increased hydropower potential. However, this present study highlights the inaccuracies in using the out-of-date estimation of 15-20 % hydropower-potential increase as a forecast of future potential power production in all Fortum-operated hydropower plants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 78 p.
TRITA-HYD, 2016:1
Keyword [en]
Global warming, climate variability, hydropower plants, spectral analysis
National Category
Water Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-183396OAI: diva2:910686
Subject / course
Hydraulic Engineering
Educational program
Master of Science in Engineering - Energy and Environment
2016-02-25, KTH, Brinellvägen, Stockholm, 21:12 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-03-10 Created: 2016-03-09 Last updated: 2016-03-10Bibliographically approved

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