Energy System Impacts
Robin Kundis Craig
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
June 14, 2011
THE LAW OF ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE: U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL ASPECTS, American Bar Association, 2012
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 503
The exact impacts of climate change in the U.S. are still uncertain, so the effects on the energy sector are also highly uncertain, although the uncertainty is greater regarding effects on energy supply and production than regarding energy demand. Overall, climate change is likely to increase energy demand, increase peak demands, and shift energy needs from heating oil and natural gas to electricity, all of which effects will be driven primarily by increased needs for residential, industrial, commercial, and agricultural space cooling as summers grow hotter and heat waves become more frequent. As for production and supply, the greatest overall effects of climate change in the U.S. are likely to be on operators’ abilities to cool power plants and the consequent loss of efficiency and capacity as a result of increased air and water temperatures and reduced water supplies; on hydroelectric generation as a result of reduced and more variable flows; and on energy-related infrastructure of all types as a result of increasingly severe weather events and sea-level rise. Importantly, however, these national or overall projections mask important regional variations in climate change impacts, and hence adaptation strategies should be cognizant of and responsive to those regional differences. Moreover, climate change impacts on the energy sector strongly indicate that adaptation efforts will need to coordinate energy policy and water policy to reflect the likelihood that climate change will have significant impact on the energy-water nexus.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: climate change, adaptation, energy, electricity, energy demand, energy production, hydroelectricity, energy-water nexus. water-energy nexus
Date posted: June 15, 2011
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