Estimating impacts of warming temperatures on California's electricity system
Despite a clear need, little research has been carried out at the regional-level to quantify potential climate-related impacts to electricity production and delivery systems. This paper introduces a bottom-up study of climate change impacts on California's energy infrastructure, including high temperature effects on power plant capacity, transmission lines, substation capacity, and peak electricity demand. End-of-century impacts were projected using the A2 and B1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emission scenarios. The study quantifies the effect of high ambient temperatures on electricity generation, the capacity of substations and transmission lines, and the demand for peak power for a set of climate scenarios. Based on these scenarios, atmospheric warming and associated peak demand increases would necessitate up to 38% of additional peak generation capacity and up to 31% additional transmission capacity, assuming current infrastructure. These findings, although based on a limited number of scenarios, suggest that additional funding could be put to good use by supporting R&D into next generation cooling equipment technologies, diversifying the power generation mix without compromising the system's operational flexibility, and designing effective demand side management programs.