Experts warn that the power grid is capable of coping with climate change

Floods and heat threaten the planet 0:45

(CNN) – When temperatures rise faster than expected, the hottest summer in the North is warmer than ever, and electricity experts and officials warn that countries may not have enough power to meet demand in the coming months. Many energy network operators in the country do not take into account climate change in their plans. Extreme weather events This has become more frequent and dangerous.

All this gives reason to say that not only this summer, but also in the coming years there will be more interruptions in the supply of electricity.

US central electric operators have issued a summer readiness report on their territories. They were already expecting that “there were not enough approved funds to cover the forecast for the peak summer.” This assessment takes into account historical weather conditions and the latest NOAA forecast for more severe weather this summer.

However, energy experts tell CNN that some power grid operators do not take into account how the climate crisis has changed our times, including frequent extreme events, and if the intention is to build a reliable power grid, this is a problem.

“In fact, the electricity system is old, and a lot of infrastructure was built before we started thinking about climate change,” says Romani Webb, a researcher at the Sabine Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “It is not designed to withstand the effects of climate change.”

Webb says many utility operators make investment decisions based on historical weather rather than more pessimistic climate forecasts, simply because they want to avoid financial losses by investing in what could happen compared to what happened. Webb believes this is the wrong approach and makes the power grid vulnerable.

“We’ve seen a lot of sites not want to integrate climate change into planning processes because they say the science of climate change is very vague,” Webb said. “The truth is that we know climate change is happening, we know its effects in terms of extreme heat waves, hurricanes and droughts, and we know that all of these are affecting the electrical system, so ignoring those effects makes the problem worse.”

Earlier this month, early heat in Texas shut down six power plants. Residents were asked to reduce electricity consumption by keeping thermostats at 25.5 ° C or above and not to use large appliances during peak hours. The Texas Electric Reliability Board, or ERCOT, concluded in its Seasonal Reliability Report that the state’s power grid is ready for summer and has “sufficient” capacity for “normal” summer conditions, based on the average climate of 2006-2020.

however, the summer outlook, recently published by NOAA, shows that temperatures are above average for all countries in the country.

Webb told CNN: “We continue to design and deploy facilities based on historical weather patterns, which we know are not good predictors of future conditions during climate change.”

Asked by an ERCOT spokesman whether the agency had created a blind spot for itself by not calculating extreme weather forecasts, an ERCOT spokesman told CNN that the report “uses a scenario approach from resources based on extreme system conditions to show a number of relevant outcomes,” including some extreme scenarios. weather.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the regulator that oversees the health of the country’s electrical infrastructure, is less optimistic.

In a recent seasonal reliability report, the NERC put Texas at “increased risk” this summer due to a power outage. He also noted that although most parts of the country have enough electricity this summer, many markets are threatened by an energy crisis.

California network operators also justified the analysis in the summer reliability report based on “historical weather data for the last 20 years.” The report also notes that the assessment “does not fully reflect climate uncertainty about supplies and goods.”

The drought is exacerbating supply and demand problems in the US electricity grid: NERC told CNN that the country’s reliable hydropower loss from energy-generating dams was 2%. While almost everything from toothbrushes to cars use electricity, many coal-fired power plants are rapidly retiring. Energy experts say adding more renewable energy will have a double effect: reducing greenhouse gas emissions from climate change and increasing the country’s electricity supply.

plan B

The Chicago area is already planning repairs to lighting, air conditioning and heating
Electrical network failure.

In the Bronzeville neighborhood of south Chicago, solar panels cover the roof of an assembly complex. The giant battery, located a short distance away, collects energy from solar panels and natural gas generators and creates a small network. Commonwealth Edison, a state-owned energy company, works with community members to ensure that the neighborhood’s energy is self-sufficient.

“Without energy, we are talking about potentially life-threatening situations, so this small network provides a reserve to save energy, even when the network is down,” he said. [principal] It just doesn’t exist, “said Paul Pabst, an engineer with Commonwealth Edison.

The project is awaiting approval, but once launched, the micro network can connect and share power with the main network. In the event of a power outage, it can be switched on and off independently for four hours to power homes, police stations and hospitals in the area using a built-in battery.

Yami Newell is a Bronzeville resident and energy advocate. I saw the ripple effect of Chicago’s unreliable power grid, and the power outage caused by the weather was not uncommon in both hot and cold. Loss of energy during a heat wave can lead to a dangerous health condition, and for a family with a stable income, losing all their food in the refrigerator can be financially disastrous.

“The energy crisis could turn into a public health crisis,” Newell told CNN. “It could turn into a food crisis.”

As communities look for innovative ways to build a more sustainable network, Bronzeville is one of the possible models. Until countries build more sustainable grids, climate change will force energy companies to continue to take emergency measures, such as requiring people to reduce electricity consumption or shutting down the grid in the event of a power outage. Acceptance of the application.

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