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Derby Dam, Sparks, NV, USA.

Institutional Responses to Climate Change-Induced Hydropower Shortages

Hydroelectric power is the predominant source of low-carbon energy in the world and a key element of global efforts to mitigate climate change. Ironically, climate change itself presents a major threat to hydro production through severe drought, which reduces throughput. As a result, governments face uncertain and costly consequences. This project investigates how domestic political institutions shape state responses to drought induced electricity shortages in hydropower-reliant countries as a result of increasing climate change. Led by Jennifer Bussell, an associate professor of public policy and political science at UC Berkeley, this project will explain which power generation sources states choose to augment or replace hydroelectric power as part of their short-term and long-term strategies to ensure energy security. Through a combination of data analysis and qualitative interviews, the research team will identify the political-institutional conditions under which drought-induced hydroelectric energy shortages lead to renewable energy build out, or when states alternatively substitute hydropower with fossil fuels.