Hydropower production is vulnerable to variability in rainfall and streamflow. Inter-seasonal variability and extended drought periods create operational challenges for smaller capacity hydropower dams such as the Afulilo in Samoa which supplies water to the 4MW Taelefaga hydropower station on Upolu Island.
Energy demand in Samoa is increasing bybetween 4-5% p.a. When commissioned in 1992, Taelefaga provided 80% of the island’s power needs, but with increasing energy demand, about 50% is now met from thermal (diesel) sources. Thermal energy costs in the Pacific region can equal a significant percentage of GDP (up to 14% in Fiji) . Therefore there is strong incentive to find new renewable sources and improve operations of existing facilities. Variability in seasonal rainfall in Samoa is amenable to prediction. Most droughts occur in El Niño years and are remarkably similar in occurrence to droughts in Australia.
Seasonal Climate forecasts can improve the reliability and management of hydropower production especially for smaller capacity reservoirs. This project involves the Electric Power Corporation, Samoa Meteorology Division and the Climate and Ocean Support Program in the Pacific (COSSPac).