The dramatic potential impacts of climate change on hydropower potential in the Zambezi River Basin point to the need to explicitly consider climate change in both project planning and overall system expansion planning.
This is even truer for future plants, where financial viability and loan repayments will depend on the stability of generation and sales revenue. A key next step in this analysis should be to look at not just how climate and development affect individual plants, but how they affect entire national and regional energy systems.
This analysis should also use the most recent climate scenario data available, as this field is evolving rapidly. Although there is increasing cooperation in the basin, major decisions on investment and operation are not necessarily coordinated as effectively as possible, and this will be more complex with four or five major new plant in the basin in the coming 10-15 years.
Linking the water modelling to an energy system model for the region would allow for more explicit modelling of the energy, water and economic trade-offs, and a deeper understanding of the real costs of a changing climate.