EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts
Vol. 18, EMS2021-493, 2021
EMS Annual Meeting 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Impact of climate change on hydropower production in the Upper Danube

Ignacio Martin Santos, Mathew Herrnegger, and Hubert Holzmann
Ignacio Martin Santos et al.
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Institute of Hydrology and Water Management (HyWa)

In the last two decades, different climate downscaling initiatives provided climate scenarios for Europe. The most recent initiative, CORDEX, provides Regional Climate Model (RCM) data for Europe with a spatial resolution of 12.5 km, while the previous initiative, ENSEMBLES, had a spatial resolution of 25 km. They are based on different emission scenarios, Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) respectively.

A study carried out by Stanzel et al. (2018) explored the hydrological impact and discharge projections for the Danube basin upstream of Vienna when using either CORDEX and ENSEMBLES data. This basin covers an area of 101.810km2 with a mean annual discharge of 1923 m3/s at the basin outlet. The basin is dominated by the Alps, large gradients and is characterized by high annual precipitations sums which provides valuable water resources available along the basin. Hydropower therefore plays an important role and accounts for more than half of the installed power generating capacity for this area. The estimation of hydropower generation under climate change is an important task for planning the future electricity supply, also considering the on-going EU efforts and the “Green Deal” initiative.

Taking as input the results from Stanzel et al. (2018), we use transfer functions derived from historical discharge and hydropower generation data, to estimate potential changes for the future. The impact of climate change projections of ENSEMBLE and CORDEX in respect to hydropower generation for each basin within the study area is determined. In addition, an assessment of the impact on basins dominated by runoff river plants versus basins dominated by storage plants is considered.

The good correlation between discharge and hydropower generation found in the historical data suggests that discharge projection characteristics directly affect the future expected hydropower generation. Large uncertainties exist and stem from the ensembles of climate runs, but also from the potential operation modes of the (storage) hydropower plants in the future.




Stanzel, P., Kling, H., 2018. From ENSEMBLES to CORDEX: Evolving climate change projections for Upper Danube River flow. J. Hydrol. 563, 987–999. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.06.057


How to cite: Martin Santos, I., Herrnegger, M., and Holzmann, H.: Impact of climate change on hydropower production in the Upper Danube, EMS Annual Meeting 2021, online, 6–10 Sep 2021, EMS2021-493, https://doi.org/10.5194/ems2021-493, 2021.

Supporters & sponsors