Western Dvina and Neman hold the greatest energy potential. By 2006 Belarus had 21 small hydroelectric power plants with a total installed capacity of approximately 10 MWh, including 14 hydros with a total capacity of 7.8 MWh. The plan was to put into operation 29 hydros with a total installed capacity of 7 MWh by 2010. In 2006, the hydropower plants in Belarus generated around 3% of the potential national hydropower supply and accounted for over 0.13% of electric energy produced in Belarus by plants of all types (1).
Belarus is principally a plain, therefore only low-head hydropower plants can be constructed here. Hydroelectric development on the Dnieper and Pripyat Rivers would lead to the inundation of large areas. However conditions are in place to build economical and environmentally-safe plants in the basins of Western Dvina and Neman. Prospects for hydropower development in Belarus are related to multifunctional systems integrating runoff regulation, power production, water supply, water transportation, irrigation and water protection (1).
Small hydroelectric power plants comprise small daily storage reservoirs. These are susceptible to climate impacts. A rise of monthly mean temperatures of surfaces waters will lead to additional evaporation and corresponding losses of power generation. However, winter warming of the recent decades leads to the improvement of ice situation in water reservoirs and rivers (1).
The heating season at present is 6.5 months. If average annual temperature rises by 0.5⁰Сto 3⁰С, the heating period shrinks by 6 to 36 days. For Belarus, an important positive factor of warming will be a milder severity of climatic conditions, which currently predetermine the cost of supporting the economy. For our region, fuel and energy savings resulting from shorter duration and lessened severity of the cold season and, as a result, reduced heating costs for buildings may become one of the important socio-economic consequences of the expected anthropogenic climate warming (1).
Opportunities renewable energy sources Belarus
Water courses in Belarus have a potential capacity of 850 MW, of which 520 MW is technically available is, and 250 MW is economically feasible. There are 1840 sites suitable for wind power plants that have been identified across the country, with a theoretical power output of over 1,600 MW. In 2006 the total installed power of wind-driven power plants was 0.9 MW. Projected full installed capacity from wind power plants by 2012 is estimated to be 5.2 MW. It is expected to commission three pilot biogas-fuelled plants to a total capacity of 1.1 MW (11).
The use of wood as fuel is projected to be 2.1-2.4 million tons equivalent fuel by 2010. The likely amount of plant residues to be put to use as fuel is estimated at 20-30 thousand tons equivalent fuel. The bioprocessing of solid waste for gas extraction has the efficiency of no more than 20-25%, which is equivalent to 100,000-120,000 thousand tons equivalent fuel. Under favorable economic and production conditions, solar energy can potentially replace organic fuels of about 5,000 thousand tons equivalent fuel a year (11).
The current key renewable energy sources in Europe are hydropower (19.8% of electricity generated) and wind. By the 2070s, hydropower potential for the whole of Europe is expected to decline by 6%, translated into a 20 to 50% decrease around the Mediterranean, a 15 to 30% increase in northern and eastern Europe and a stable hydropower pattern for western and central Europe (2,4,5). In areas with increased precipitation and runoff, dam safety may become a problem due to more frequent and intensive flooding events (6).
It has become apparent during recent heat waves and drought periods that electricity generation in thermal power plants may be affected by increases in water temperature and water scarcity. In the case of higher water temperatures the discharge of warm cooling water into the river may be restricted if limit values for temperature are exceeded. Electricity production has already had to be reduced in various locations in Europe during very warm summers (e.g. 2003, 2005 and 2006) (6,9).
Extreme heat waves can pose a serious threat to uninterrupted electricity supplies, mainly because cooling air may be too warm and cooling water may be both scarce and too warm (10).
Climate change will impact thermoelectric power production in Europe through a combination of increased water temperatures and reduced river flow, especially during summer. In particular, thermoelectric power plants in southern and south-eastern Europe will be affected by climate change. Using a physically based hydrological and water temperature modelling framework in combination with an electricity production model, a summer average decrease in capacity of power plants of 6.3–19% in Europe was shown for 2031–2060 compared with 1971-2000, depending on cooling system type and climate scenario (SRES B1 and A2) (12).
Overall, a decrease in low flows (10th percentile of daily distribution) for Europe (except Scandinavia) is projected with an average decrease of 13-15% for 2031–2060 and 16-23% for 2071-2100,compared with 1971-2000. Increases in mean summer (21 June - 20 September) water temperatures are projected of 0.8-1.0°C for 2031–2060 and 1.4-2.3°C for 2071-2100, compared with 1971-2000. Projected water temperature increases are highest in the south-western and south-eastern parts of Europe (12).
By the 22nd century, land area devoted to biofuels may increase by a factor of two to three in all parts of Europe (3).
It may become more challenging to meet energy demands during peak times due to more frequent heat waves and drought conditions (2). Strong distributional patterns are expected across Europe — with rising cooling (electricity) demand in summer in southern Europe, compared with reduced heating (energy) demand in winter in northern Europe (8).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Belarus.
- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus (2006)
- Lehner et al. (2005), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Metzger et al. (2004), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Kirkinen et al. (2005), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Veijalainen and Vehviläinen (2006); Andréasson et al. (2006), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Rothstein et al. (2006), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Alcamo et al., 2007
- EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
- Behrens et al. (2010)
- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus (2009)
- Van Vliet et al. (2012)