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Impacts of environmental degradation and climate change on electricity generation in Malawi

This paper reviews the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change on hydropower generation in Malawi. Currently all of Malawi’s hydropower stations are run-of-river schemes cascaded along the Shire River with an installed capacity of nearly 280 MW. The generation is impacted negatively by floods, siltation, droughts and aquatic weeds infestation. The paper presents measures taken by the national electricity utility company to manage these impacts. It concludes that the hydropower generation system in a highly environmentally degraded area is difficult to manage both technically and economically. Therefore, the authors stress that it is important for Malawi to diversify its electricity generation sources, rather than relying solely on hydropower stations located in the Shire River. There is also a need for better flood control systems and local communities should be encouraged to take more active roles in environmental management programmes.