Abstract: The availability and reliability of renewable energy sources depend very much on current and future climate conditions, which may vary in light of possible global climate change (GCC). Long-term energy planning, however, does not normally take into account possible future GCC, which may turn out to be a risky exercise, mainly for those countries that rely heavily on renewable energy sources. In fact, although renewable energy sources are being greatly promoted worldwide to curb greenhouse gases emissions, these energy sources are likely to be the most vulnerable ones to climate change itself.
The case of Brazil is elucidative. The Brazilian energy sector relies heavily on renewable energy sources. Some 45% of all energy produced in the country comes from renewable energy sources (MME, 2009). In the power sector alone, this reliance is even higher3. Hydroelectric power plants accounted for 80% of Brazil‘s power generation in 2008 (MME,
2009). Although not fully exploited, wind power potential is also quite impressive in certain regions of the country, such as in the Northeast coastal region and in parts of the South and the Southeast (CEPEL, 2001).
With this as the background, the focus of this chapter is to analyze some possible impacts of GCC on wind and hydro power generation, using the example of Brazil as a case study. The impacts of GCC on these primary renewable energy sources are assessed by simulating scenarios taking into account climate projections based on IPCC A2 and B2 scenarios (IPCC, 2000) (see BOX 1). These climate projections for Brazil were carried out by a team of Brazilian climate specialists of the CPTEC/INPE using the PRECIS (Providing REgional Climates for Impacts Studies) model4, which provided projections for precipitation, temperature, wind velocity and humidity at a 50 km x 50 km square resolution for the 2071 – 2100 time period (Ambrizzi et al., 2007; Marengo et al., 2007).