Scholarship code CU3.289

Hydropower generation in the Italian Alpine under a changing climate

  • Reference person
  • Host University/Institute
    University of Trento
  • Internship
  • Research Keywords
    Hydropower generation
    Water resources management and optimization
    Hydrological and human systems interactions
  • Reference ERCs
  • Reference SDGs
    GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
    GOAL 13: Climate Action


Water resources are under threat by the combined effect of climate change and overexploitation for agricultural, industrial and human consumption. To gain knowledge and better inform future directions in the water sectors this research topic aims at developing a suite of models, organized as digital twins of the intertwined natural and technological systems, for simulating the complex interplay between water needs and stresses caused by climate change and the uneven distribution of water demand.In particular, the objective of this research project is to analyse the impact of climate change and the energy market on hydropower production of the Italian Alpine Region (GAR). The analysis will be conducted by means of the multi-scale hydrological model HYPERstreamHS recently developed by the Hydrology group of the University of Trento. The model will simulate the hydropower production and the associated streamflow alterations by modelling explicitly the functioning of relevant hydraulic infrastructures. The main research lines are the following:- Implementation of a model of hydropower production able to simulate the operation of the hydropower plants according to the modelled water availability (the model will also simulate the altered streamflow downstream of the hydropower plants). This model will be prodromal to the development of a twin digital model of hydropower production.- Scenario analyses of climate change impact on hydropower production in the Italian Alpine region including assessment of the vulnerability of the main hydropower systems. In addition, the role of reservoirs as energy storage systems complementing other renewable energy sources, namely solar and wind energy, will be investigated also in relation to climate change scenarios. Transition to pumped-storage solutions will be also considered to exploit the transfer of large water volumes in hours of relatively low electricity prices.- Effect on hydropower production of the evolution of the electricity market as fostered by the development of new storage technologies and projected changes in wind and solar energy production.- Development of tools for the analysis of the water conflicts and related mitigation strategies for enhancing the resilience of the energy-water nexus.

Suggested skills:

The candidate is expected to have a background in civil/environmental engineering, earth and environmental sciences or related disciplines. Furthermore, the candidate is expected to have a strong mathematical background, strong programming skills (e.G. C++, FORTRAN, Python, MATLAB) and a desire to perform modelling work within the context of the climate-water-energy nexus. Fluent spoken and written English, as well as good communication skills, are also required.

Research team and environment

The prospective candidate will work in the active and stimulating environment provided by the Hydrology group at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering of the University of Trento. The candidate will collaborate with post-docs and temporary researchers hired in the context of several funded national and international projects. In this respect, the candidate will benefit from the active, international and broad research program led by the supervisor.