Working Paper: Minimizing biodiversity and social impacts of hydropower, wind, and solar in Southern Africa’s low-carbon electricity system

Scaling up low-carbon electricity infrastructure to meet economic growth, electrification targets, and climate goals in Southern Africa is likely to come in conflict with environmental and social values because of the significant land use requirements of wind and solar technologies and freshwater impacts of hydropower.

In this study, the authors characterize wind, solar, and hydropower resources in Southern Africa under different sets of environmental and social criteria. The authors then identify least-cost electricity infrastructure investments under different sets of socio-environmental constraints and carbon emissions targets and evaluate the costs of imposing increasing environmental and social constraints on low-carbon pathways for Southern Africa’s electricity system.

Grace Wu, Ranjit Deshmukh, Anne Trainor, Anagha Uppal, AFM Kamal Chowdhury, Carlos Baez, Erik Martin, Jonathan Higgins, Ana Mileva, Kudakwashe Ndhlukula