Hydropower is typically subject to strong seasonality’s, driven by rainfall patterns, snowmelt and other hydrological phenomena. Comprehensive databases of the seasonal availability of hydropower are currently unavailable to the modelling community, which hampers research efforts to assess the spatiotemporal synergies between variable renewable energy and hydropower.
IRENA’s new spatiotemporal data atlas, AfREP-Hydro (African Renewable Electricity Profiles for Energy Modelling – Hydropower), covers all existing and several hundred committed, planned and potential future hydropower plants across the African continent.
Modelling the expansion of power systems requires high resolution in space and time, especially for potentially high levels of renewable resources. Although, detailed spatiotemporal datasets on solar photovoltaic and wind power exist, the picture is different for hydropower. Despite hydropower being the world’s most important source of renewable electricity (as of 2021) and an important provider of flexibility for enhanced grid integration of solar and wind power, there is a clear lack of model-ready datasets on hydropower plants.
This database, which is accessible through IRENA’s Global Atlas Platform, provides model-ready seasonal hydropower availability profiles in normal, dry and wet years, both under present-day climate and under future climate scenarios.