Value of climate services for the hydropower sector


A recent study highlights the value of climate services, such as the DST developed by the S2S4E project, for the hydropower sector.

Researchers from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) have recently published a study in Water Resources Research assessing the potential of seasonal forecasts from continental models (i.e. at a European scale) in providing useful information to users from the hydropower and other sectors. SMHI is one of the S2S4E project partners, performing research on snow and inflow indicators aimed at hydropower operators. These indicators will be available at the next Decision Support Tool (DST; update.

Seasonal climate predictions on streamflow or available water reserves for the next months can help hydropower companies plan their energy production and schedule management operations. The hydropower sector typically relies on local hydrological models, optimized at the catchment scale. Since these models rely on local data, they tend to provide more reliable and accurate information to decision-makers. Large-scale hydroclimate services, such as the DST, are becoming increasingly available, raising questions on their value for decision-making since they are based on less accurate inputs.

The study argues that continental hydroclimate services can provide accurate and improved predictions at the catchment scale for streamflow, when predicting anomalies and detecting flows that are below or above normal conditions. Continental hydrological services use consistent datasets from the same source throughout the production steps, which allows them to take better advantage of climate models than local hydrological models can. Nevertheless, other variables, such as soil moisture and snow, should be carefully considered during the interpretation of data from continental hydroclimate services.

The DST, developed through the S2S4E project, provides valuable predictions for indicators relevant to the hydropower sector. The results of the study published by SMHI researchers highlight the value of such climate services for hydropower companies, and can provide guidance to the DST users so that they can make the best use of the information available through the tool.

Written by Andria Nicodemou (BSC). Contributions by Louise Crochemore and Ilias Pechlivanidis (SMHI).