Consider this summer the first of a decade of tests for power grids.
- May 28, 2022 1:28 am GMT
After a summer rolling blackouts, Californians have come to terms that heatwaves will send their power grid into peril and likely be unable to handle demand. In Texas, after a winter storm that nearly caused a statewide blackout, six power plants failed during a spring heatwave earlier this year due to increased demand. Michigan and Illinois officials are singing the same song to their customers: forced blackouts are a real possibility.
Climate change is forcing our power grid operators to change how we forecast supply and demand, yet it seems like the changes in weather are outpacing the capabilities of our power systems to add more power capacity and predict accurately.
Despite a renewed and urgent focus on climate change, it looks like the power industry is still lagging behind. The industry has become reactionary rather than prepared to respond to the extreme highs and lows that our changing climate will throw at us. Our hottest days and weeks of the year will only get hotter. Our coldest stretches will only get colder.
Grid reliability will be crucial as we navigate these changes. Advances in energy efficiency will help, as will evolving battery storage technology. The reality is that leaving people without power during extremely hot and cold days is dangerous and grid operators, instead of warning customers about possible shutoff and blackouts, plan so that, at a minimum, these problems are highly unlikely.
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