As part of the Administration’s efforts to support climate change preparedness and resilience planning -- and to advance the Energy Department’s goal of promoting energy security -- the Department is assessing the threats of climate change and extreme weather to the Nation's energy system, and developing guides for climate resilience planning. Two reports have been released that examine the current and potential future impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the U.S. energy sector. They also provide examples of resilience actions that have been taken, and opportunities to develop and deploy a climate-resilient energy system. In addition, EPSA has released a guide for assessing electricity sector vulnerabilities and developing resilience solutions to sea level rise and storm surge. The guide includes examples of climate resilience challenges and opportunities related to generation, transmission and distribution assets, and inclludes examples of tools, data and methods for conducting climate resilience analysis.
Not all areas of the U.S. face the same threats from climate change. By breaking them down region-by-region, these reports identify the most vulnerable spots in our energy infrastructure according to the climate-related impacts. Some key examples include:
- Coastal energy infrastructure – Nearly all coastal energy assets are at risk from sea level rise, increasing storm intensity and higher storm surge and flooding.
- Oil and gas production – vulnerable spots to disruptions include the Southeast, Southern Great Plains and Alaska caused by more intense, frequent storms, hurricanes and higher temperatures.
- Renewable energy resources -- affected by increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and increasing frequency and intensity of droughts. The most vulnerable region subject to reduced hydropower from changes in snowpack and melting patterns is the West.
- Electricity transmission and distribution -- systems carry less current and operate less efficiently when ambient air temperatures are higher, and may face increasing risks of physical damage from more intense and frequent storms and wildfires.
- Fuel Distribution: Disruption of fuel transportation in every region due to impacts like increasing heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, hurricanes and storm surge.
- Electricity Demand -- Increasing electricity demand due to higher temperatures in nearly every region.
The reports also identify activities underway and approaches for assessing vulnerabilities and developming resilience solutions, including: hardening existing assets; deploying more climate resilient technologies, including smart grids and microgrids; relocation, and improved policy and strategies to speed establishment of a more climate-resilient energy system.
To learn more, read the full reports and check out a map that illustrates these impacts by state.
Climate Change and the Electricity Sector: Guide for Assessing Vulnerabilities and Developing Resilience Solutions to Sea Level Rise. July 2016