The Harnessing Hydropower study aimed to provide an analysis of the
historical performance of hydropower in selected countries and an
assessment of the risks and opportunities related to the performance of
schemes under future climate change in the context of water, energy and
food security. This synthesis report draws together the findings of a
literature review and three country case study visits (to India, Malawi
and Nepal), during which a broad range of stakeholders in the hydropower
sector were consulted.
Some of the main conclusions drawn by the synthesis report are as
- Hydropower is likely to play an increasingly important part in
supplying electricity in low income countries in Africa and Asia over
the next 30 years.
- Where possible existing hydropower schemes should be rehabilitated and
their operating regime optimised in the context of the environmental
flow requirements and needs of other water users before investments
are made in new infrastructure.
- New hydropower schemes need to be assessed within the context of
comprehensive catchment-wide and national planning.
- Analysing the trade-offs associated with water storage developments
could help ensure sustainable resource use and equitable sharing of
- There is a paucity of suitable hydrological data with which to plan
new hydropower schemes in many low income counties, and national
hydro-meteorological systems should be improved with some urgency.
- Emphasis should be placed on investing in hydropower schemes that
maximise flexibility and adaptive management.
- Climate change scenarios should be incorporated into the planning and
design of new hydropower schemes to ensure their performance is
resilient to future changes.
- Environmental and social issues will continue to play a significant
part in the development of new hydropower opportunities.
- The benefits of large hydropower schemes often do not reach the
poorest communities and can exacerbate inequalities.
- Investments in new hydropower schemes should ensure that they increase
the climate resilience of poor and vulnerable communities.
- Further research is required across a range of fields to fill
knowledge gaps for decision making under uncertainty in relation to
This report has been produced for Evidence on Demand by HR Wallingford
with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development
(DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and
Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL
PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by DAI (which incorporates HTSPE
Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited. It was produced for DFID’s
Adaptation Knowledge and Tools programme.
Lumbroso, D.; Hurford, A.P.; Winpenny, J. Synthesis report: Harnessing hydropower. Evidence on Demand, UK (2014) xiii + 67 pp. [DOI: 10.12774/eod_cr.september2014.lumbrosoetal2]