Nearly Half of Western U.S. Power Plants Vulnerable to Climate Change
The desert Southwest will be the hardest hit.
The effects of climate change could hamper electric generating capacity in the Western U.S. during peak summertime energy use by about 3 percent on average, and up to nearly 9 percent if there is ongoing drought.
A new study from Arizona State University looked at the effects of climate change on streamflow, air and water temperature, humidity and air density. The result is that by mid-century, nearly half of existing capacity operating in the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, which spans 14 states, could be adversely affected to some degree.
Some of the largest capacity reductions would be in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, although California would likely see the most widespread effects. It is the desert Southwest that would be hit the hardest, however, according to lead author Matt Bartos, research scientist at ASU’s Fulton School of Engineering. The study appeared in the May issue of Nature Climate Change.