Around the world, energy systems are increasingly impacted by the effects of a changing climate.
Around the world, energy systems are increasingly impacted by the effects of a changing climate. Energy systems, especially the electric-power system, are vulnerable to natural stressors such as wildfires, severe storms, extreme temperatures and long-term disruptions of the hydrological cycle.
“As we have experienced in recent years, there have been more and more natural stressors on our systems, like the cold snap in Texas last year and the wildfires and droughts in the West,” said Mort Webster, professor of energy engineering. “Increasingly, these stressors are causing major regional power disruptions and there is good reason to think these may increase in the future with more climate change.”
Impacts of climate-related water stress and temperature changes can cascade through energy systems, although models have yet to capture this compounding of effects. A team of researchers led by Penn State has developed a coupled water–power–economy model to capture these important interactions in a study of the exceedance of water temperature thresholds for power generation.