Effects of Climate Change on Energy Systems

Climate change is expected to affect energy system operations in several ways. For example, increases in energy demands for cooling and decreases in energy demands for heating can be expected across most parts of the country. This could drive up peak electricity demand, and thus capacity needs, but could also reduce the use of heating oil and natural gas in winter. Water limitations in parts of the country, and increased demand for water for other uses, could result in less water for use in cooling at thermal electric plants. Increased water temperatures may also reduce the cooling capacity of available water resources. Water flows at hydropower sites may increase in some areas and decrease in others. Changes in extreme weather events—including hurricanes, floods, and droughts—may disrupt a wide range of energy system operations, including transmission lines, oil and gas platforms, ports, refineries, wind farms, and solar installations.

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