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Climate Change Could Lead to Blackouts, Higher Power Costs on West Coast


Shasta Lake, California, on Aug. 25, 2014. Kelly M. Grow/ California Department of Water Resources. Two new studies led by a North Carolina State University researcher offer a preview of what electricity consumers on the West Coast could experience under two different future scenarios: one where excessive heat due to climate change strains power supplies, and one where the grid shifts toward renewable energy while the climate follows historic trends. In both cases, they found power costs and reliability remain vulnerable to extreme weather.

“The impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on the grid, mostly in the form of drought and heat waves, are going to get worse under climate change,” said Jordan Kern , assistant professor of forestry and environment resources at NC State. “Even as the West Coast grid moves away from fossil fuels toward wind and solar, these extreme weather events will still impact system reliability and the price of power.”

Published in the journal Earth’s Future , the two studies project future power supply and demand under separate scenarios. In the first study , researchers used computer models to simulate the impacts of climate change on the current power grid in California and the Pacific […]

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