Climate change will cause blackouts & brownouts as energy infrastructure brought down

11 July 2013. John M. Broder. Climate Change Will Cause More Energy Breakdowns, U.S. Warns. New York Times.

The nation’s entire energy system is vulnerable to increasingly severe and costly weather events driven by climate change, according to a report from the Department of Energy to be published on Thursday.

The blackouts and other energy disruptions of Hurricane Sandy were just a foretaste, the report says.

It’s costing billions now — in the future it will cost trillions.

Some of the energy infrastructure that will be affected by rising seas, intense storms, high temperatures, frequent droughts are:

  • oil wells
  • hydroelectric dams
  • nuclear power plants

It’s already happening.

  1. Power plants are shutting down or reducing output because of a shortage of cooling water.
  2. Barges carrying coal and oil are being delayed by low water levels in major waterways.
  3. Floods and storm surges are inundating ports, refineries, pipelines and rail yards.
  4. Powerful windstorms and raging wildfires are felling transformers and transmission lines.
  5. High temperatures and record-setting drought in the Southwest reduced the water available to cool fossil fuel plants and hydroelectric power.

Increasing blackouts and brownouts likely

Rising heat in the West will drive a steep increase in demand for air conditioning, which has already caused blackouts and brownouts in some places.

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