Hydropower

Greenhouse gas emissions related to freshwater reservoirs

All human activities have a greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint and freshwater reservoirs for hydropower generation are no exception. As climate change issues play an ever larger role in the global sustainable development discourse, there is a clear and pressing need to address questions over the status of GHG emissions from freshwater reservoirs and river basins.

Summarizing today’s state of knowledge, HEA clearly derives the following fundamental statements on the role of hydropower in the context of GHG emissions:

  1. CO2 and Methane are natural greenhouse gases present in the earth atmosphere.
  2. Each human activity has a GHG footprint.
  3. All water reservoirs are influencing GHG budget – emitter, sink or neutral.
  4. Only 0.6 % of total man-made GHG emissions are related to hydropower reservoirs.
    [Source: Nathan Barros et al.; Carbon emission from hydroelectric reservoirs linked to reservoir age and latitude; NATURE GEOSCIENCE, 31 July 2011]
  5. Within the global energy mix, hydropower is one of the lowest GHG emitters.[Source: IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, 2011]

Read more about the Research on GHG Emissions from Freshwater Reservoirs