Hydropower’s role in climate change mitigation

Mitigation of climate change is one of the most important areas for sustainable development, and assessing the relative contribution of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is now an expectation in all sectors.

While hydropower is in general one of the lowest GHG emitters within the global energy mix, there are ongoing discussions on the importance of GHG emissions from reservoirs.

It has been recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that ‘net emissions’ should be considered – evaluating the change in GHG emission from the pre-impoundment to the post-impoundment condition.
Although generally considered to be carbon neutral, some reservoirs under certain conditions may be an important source of the GHG methane, while other reservoirs act as carbon sinks.

For the last eight years, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) has worked on this matter in collaboration with UNESCO. Currently they are working on a screening tool, the ‘G-res tool’, which estimates the net impact of a reservoir on GHG emissions and will allocate any GHG impact to the services provided by the reservoir.

HEA is strongly supporting this IHA/UNESCO project.

Read more about the Research on GHG Emissions from Freshwater Reservoirs