The operation and economics of the power systems are constrained by the availability and temperature of water resources since thermal power plants need water for cooling and hydropower plants are fuelled by water to generate electricity. In Europe and North America water shortages or high river water temperatures have recurrently occurred in the last years, leading to monetary losses, power curtailments, temporary shutdowns, demand restrictions, and ultimately increased wear and tear of the power plants. On the other hand, the operation of the power system may impact on the quantity and quality of the water resources.
The combined effect of increased water consumption, for energy and non-energy purposes, with lower availability of water resources due to climate change is expected to lead to similar problems in Africa. In most African energy systems hydropower is the dominant renewable energy source, but they rely heavily on oil- and gas-fired capacity, and lack interconnections with neighbouring countries.
This report describes the modelling framework developed by the JRC for analysing the water-power nexus, and describes the results of applying it to the case of the West African Power Pool.