Study uncovers how big droughts in the Greater Mekong trigger carbon dioxide emission bursts

A study on big droughts in the Greater Mekong region revealed findings that can help reduce the carbon footprint of power systems while providing insights into better designed and more sustainable power plants.

The study, titled “The Greater Mekong’s climate-water-energy nexus: how ENSO-triggered regional droughts affect power supply and CO2 emissions,” was published by researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the journal Earth’s Future.

Known as an important means to support economic growth in Southeast Asia, the hydropower resources of the Mekong River Basin have been largely exploited by the riparian countries. The researchers found that during prolonged droughts hydropower production reduces drastically, forcing power systems to compensate with fossil fuels—gas and coal—thus increasing power production costs and carbon footprint. As such, the vulnerability of hydropower dams to inter-annual changes in  hinders their ability to keep to the promise of offering .

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Singapore University of Technology and Design