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Linking solar and wind power in eastern Africa with operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam


Sterl,  Sebastian
External Organizations;

Fadly,  Dalia
External Organizations;


Liersch,  Stefan
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Koch,  Hagen
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Thiery,  Wim
External Organizations;

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Sterl, S., Fadly, D., Liersch, S., Koch, H., Thiery, W. (2021): Linking solar and wind power in eastern Africa with operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. - Nature Energy, 6, 4, 407-418.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_25510
Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt are currently embroiled in a politically charged conflict that surrounds the soon-to-be-completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), with Ethiopia’s energy objectives purportedly conflicting with the water needs in Sudan and Egypt. Here we show that the multiple political and environmental challenges that surround GERD could be mitigated by explicitly coupling its operation to variable solar and wind power, which would create an incentive for Ethiopia to retain a seasonality in the Blue Nile flow. We found that this could deliver fivefold benefits across the three countries: decarbonizing power generation in the Eastern Africa Power Pool; allowing compliance with Sudan’s environmental flow needs; optimizing GERD’s infrastructure use; harmonizing the yearly refilling schedules of GERD and Egypt’s High Aswan Dam; and supporting a strong diversification of Ethiopian power generation for domestic use and for Eastern Africa Power Pool exports. These results argue for an explicit integration of complementary hydro, solar and wind power strategies in GERD operation and Eastern Africa Power Pool expansion planning.