In the words of the late great Yogi Berra: "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."
Let's be honest, it's getting harder to predict the future, especially with regard to electricity consumption, generation and resiliency. Increasing levels of weather dependent generating resources introduce an element of uncertainty. Behind the meter resources are especially concerning as they can switch from being supply to demand, very quickly. But in my mind the biggest concern and uncertainty that impacts electric generation this Summer is the extreme drought impacting large sections of the country. Water is vitally important to our ability to generate electricity, which has a direct impact on reliability and resilience of the electric grid. The NERC report does address the drought situation, but I think more analysis could have been performed in this area.
Why is water so important to electric grid reliability?
- The obvious use is in hydro generating facilities, like Hoover Dam on Lake Mead, currently at 37% capacity, an historical low. Some parts of the nation, within the drought area, are dependent on hydro power.
- Steam turbine generators, however they're fueled, require water - no water - no power
- Cooling - generating plants use water for cooling, especially nuclear plants
- Contention for water: people or power first? If the drought condition continues at it's current pace, some areas of the Country may be forced to make this choice. This would be an extreme, black swan scenario the likes of which I've never witnessed in my lifetime. I hope it never comes to fruition, but this could be the year. IMO, Lake Mead is the canary in the coal mine.
I think the NERC report could have given more analysis, i.e. Monte Carlo simulations, based on parameters effected by drought conditions - this could reveal some very concerning scenarios.
Just my .02