Climate Change Impacts on Electricity Loads and Hydropower Generation

Bonneville Dam

Power division analysts, John Fazio, Dan Hua, and Massoud Jourabchi recently published their paper, Compound climate events transform electrical power shortfall risk in the Pacific Northwest in Nature Communications. The paper was co-authored with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists.

The paper explores how climate-driven variations in both energy demand and water availability affect the power system, showing that combined climate change impacts on loads and hydropower generation may have a transformative effect on the nature and seasonality of power shortfall risk in the Pacific Northwest.

Under climate change, as winters become warmer, shortfalls are eradicated. However, as summers become hotter, air conditioning increases at a time when there is less water in the hydrosystem, increasing shortfalls. Many of these summer shortfalls go unregistered when climate change impacts on loads and hydropower dispatch are analyzed in isolation—highlighting an important role of compound events.

Today's energy planning makes allowances for expected socioeconomic change, including population growth and industrial development, but the possible impacts of climate change on shortfall risk are rarely evaluated. The importance of compound effects demonstrated in the paper suggests that planners will need to assess all potential climate-related impacts across a spectrum of climate futures and policy scenarios.

Read more:

Climate Change Impacts Will Affect Timing, Volume of River Flows And Hydropower, Study Asserts

Climate Events Create Compound Challenges for Electricity Planning