Climate change continues to adversely affect Africa, as the continent is predicted to suffer some major blackouts as a result of rising temperatures.

Temperatures across the African continent are consistently rising and drying up hydropower dams, and climate scientists have warned that frequent power outages are likely to start occurring in the near future.

Currently, many nations throughout southern and eastern Africa are planning to double their hydropower capacity by 2030. However, expanding the region’s hydroelectric potential may be challenging.

Professor Declan Conway from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment urges countries to conduct their own independent research on the potential risks of hydroelectricity expansion. He stated:

“Unpredictable changes in water availability clearly pose significant risks to the viability of hydropower plants, as well as the electricity security of the countries. A single widespread drought could disrupt many countries at the same time, including those countries, such as South Africa, that are connected to the regional power pool but do not have many hydropower dams of their own.”

Many of hydropower dams will likely be located in river basins which have been the most affected by recent droughts.

“The El Niño in 2015 and 2016 brought drought conditions to southern Africa and lowered water levels in dams so much that many areas experienced blackouts,” Professor Conway said. “If these countries build even more hydropower dams in the same river basins, they will all be at risk during future droughts, threatening further blackouts.”

Nearly 90 percent of southern Africa’s hydropower capacity is planned for the Zambezi basin, while over 80 percent of eastern Africa’s for the Nile basin.

While at the Royal Geographical Society in London, Professor Conway warned that climate change’s adverse effects will worsen in the future.

Residents of Cape Town, South Africa began to prepare for life without water earlier this year. Cape Town calls this “Day Zero,” when water supplies are expected to drop so low that the authorities will have to cut off water to three-quarters of the population. It is clear that climate change is to blame for such tragic natural disasters.

Originally predicted to occur in July of 2018, “Day Zero” has been pushed back to 2019.


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