Hydropower is cost effective environment friendly and worldwide proven sustainable energy source. Driven by streamflow stream flows, it is vulnerable to climate change and land use change. The hydropower production from the two-existing run-of-river hydropower projects on the Sondu Miriu river are vulnerable to rainfall variability and requires proper understanding of the climate change trends and policies to support sustainable hydropower development and put in place strategies for building resilience for the local communities. The objective of this paper is to examine climate change trends and their impacts on hydropower in the Sondu Miriu river basin. The methodology involved analysis of downscaled climate data from CORDEX for the period from 1950 to 2100, gridded data from Kenya Meteorological department for a period from 2007 to 2018, river flows data from Water Resources Authority for a period from 2007 to 2018 and hydropower output data from KenGen for a period from 2007 to 2018 to examine the climate change trends within the Sondu Miriu River basin and impacts on hydrology and hydropower. The results indicate that maximum and minimum annual temperature increased by 0.7oC and 0.9oC respectively between 1950 and 2005. Both the maximum and minimum annual temperatures are projected to increase by 1.9oC based on the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios between 2006 and 2100 within the Sondu Miriu basin. Annual rainfall increased by 74.8 mm between 1950 and 2005. This is projected to increase by 24.7 mm and 117.8 mm based on RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios, respectively. For the period between 2007 and 2018, the observed maximum increased by 50C while the minimum temperatures decreased by 10C. The rainfall decreased by 193.14mm while the mean daily river flows decreased by 0.3 m3/sec annually during the same period. This resulted in the decrease of hydropower production by 8.3 GWh in Sondu Miriu HPP between 2007 and 2018 while the production reduced by 14.18 GWh for Sang’oro HPP between 2012 and 2018. Understanding climate change trends within Sondu Miriu River basin should guide the planning for hydropower development projects.
Keywords: Climate change, Hydropower, Sondu Miriu River basin, downscaling, impacts.