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Annual surface area of hydropower reservoirs

Higher energy demands in Africa has led to a wide expansion of the number of hydropower sites, mainly between the 1960s and 1980s. The construction of dams causes impoundments of rivers and reservoirs in the regions of dam influence, with higher evaporation and water temperatures due to increased water surfaces. This map shows the he surface area (sqkm) of African reservoirs subject to hydropower production for the year 2016. It includes reservoirs of associated hydropower plants with installed capacities above 5MW. Apart from this, only reservoirs with a detected dam-caused impoundment of water surface are considered.

RCoE Action:

Sanchez, R. G., Seliger, R., Fahl, F., Felice, L. De, Ouarda, T. B. M. J., & Farinosi, F. (2020). Freshwater use of the energy sector in Africa. Applied Energy, 270(May),


Hydropower plants with the following characteristics are considered: i) installed capacity above 5MW, ii) unambiguous identification of power plant location and iii) artificial water accumulation in reservoir associated with hydropower plant operation. Since water surfaces are derived from optical satellite imagery (Landsat), reservoir areas may be slightly underestimated when partially covered by clouds, vegetation or satellite image artefacts.

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