ORIGINAL REPORTING: Grid Operators See The Climate Changing And Are Preparing
How climate change will stress the grid and what ISOs are doing about it; Global warming is expected to increase peak demand and extreme weather events, but new grid planning practices can help ensure power reliability
Herman K. Trabish, March 6, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: As images from Texas and Louisiana make clear, the evidence is simply undeniable now. This piece is as much about solutions as it is about the problem.
Despite climate change skeptics’ chatter, the nation’s electricity system operators are planning for its future effects. Average temperatures are rising across the U.S., forcing grid operators to ask if they have adequate capacity to meet higher power demand and sharper spikes in peak load. Projected temperature increases will raise average electricity demand 2.8% across the U.S. by the end of the century, according to a National Academy of Sciences study of climate change impacts. The impact is expected to be greatest in the summer months, when cooling load is already high. It projects a 3.5% increase in average peak demand over business-as-usual through 2100. In more extreme cases, peak demand could rise 7.2% to 18%, making the cost of needed generation even higher.
Meeting demand could require $120 billion to $180 billion in new natural gas peaker plants. But smart planning could save a lot of that cost, according to experts. The “thought exercise” by University of California researchers looked at the system peak demand increase when it was hot, applied that to climate data, and calculated how much several load balancing authorities’ peak demand would rise. The study then calculates the costs of that increased peak demand on the U.S. electric power system. The real-world question is how well utility and balancing authority system planners can respond but the thought exercise is useful because it is often difficult to get policymakers to respond to such long-term concerns… click here for more