An exploratory scenario analysis of strategic pathways towards a sustainable electricity system of the drought-stricken São Francisco River Basin

Clécio Barbosa Souza Júnior*, Hagen Koch, Marianna Siegmund-Schultze, Johann Köppel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The São Francisco River Basin in Brazil’s Northeast region suffered from a serious multi-year drought, which started in 2012. This drought was characterized by long periods of water stress, variability and unpredictability of levels and flows of rivers and reservoirs, decreases in hydropower generation, and rising of conflicts between agricultural and electrical sectors. Besides, the electricity sector faced a crisis due to its dependency on hydroelectricity generation. Applying a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) can contribute to resolve such conflicts. Particular challenges are establishing transparent rules for water level management at the dams and securing electricity supply. Ultimately, identifying options to invest in sustainable power sources may positively impact the regional electricity matrix. We used Soft Systems Methodology to structure the decision-making context and set the main objectives to be considered in the MCDA. Different scenarios of reservoir management were simulated using the Soil and Water Integrated Model and Incomplete Pairwise Comparison, while bibliographic research and expert interviews led to the selection of indicators for structuring the MCDA. We present projections for hydropower generation and meeting of water demands of further users, based on two climate change projections. The driest scenario shows a reduction in hydropower generation, indicating the necessity to reconfigure the composition of electricity sources, considering economic, technical and social-environmental constraints. These elements of the structuring phase are prerequisites for the evaluation phase of the MCDA.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy Systems
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Hydropower generation
  • Multi-criteria decision analysis
  • Problem structuring
  • Scenarios
  • Sustainability
  • Water availability

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