Energy is essential for development, but given the urgent need to mitigate climate change, developing nations are under pressure to keep their carbon emissions low. This leaves them with three options: abandon development; ignore climate concerns; or take a third path: finding energy sources that emit little or no carbon.

This report focuses on the third option, which we call “development without carbon” (DWC), looking at the viability of hydroelectric power as a low-carbon energy source for Latin America and the Caribbean in a changing climate.

The authors find that hydropower supplies 46% of the region’s electricity, a far greater share than the 16% global average – and it has been estimated that only 21 to 38 percent of the region’s hydroelectric potential has been realized. However, changes in the water supply due to climate change, competing uses, and population growth could thwart further development plans.

The report examines climate trends in the region and their implications for hydropower generation, and explains how two tools developed by SEI, Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP ) and the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning system (LEAP ), can be used to help identify and address critical issues in planning for low-carbon development. An appendix offers a listing of relevant research using LEAP and WEAP in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This report is part of a package that also includes Development without Carbon: Climate and the Global Economy through the 21st Century .

Download the full report (PDF, 1.27mb) or the executive summary (PDF, 670kb)