Drought in the West Drops Hydroelectric Power Production | Smart News

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But when severe drought and extreme heat strike, as they have this year, states like California that rely heavily on hydropower may be forced to purchase additional electricity to meet demand. , which tends to increase when temperatures soar.
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the drought affecting much of the American West harms the region’s ability to generate electricity by throttling the water flowing through hydropower plants, reports Michael Phillis for the Associated press. A new report from the Energy information administration predicts that due to the severe drought, hydropower production will decrease by almost 14% in 2021 compared to 2020.

California had to close Hyatt power station in Oroville Lake in August when water levels fell too low. At Lake Powell, a huge reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border, water levels have dropped so low that the United States Bureau of Reclamation projects that the lake may not have enough water to generate electricity by 2023 if drought conditions persist, reports Dan Gearino for Inside climate news. The loss of the Glen Canyon Dam on Lake Powell would force utility companies to find a new way to deliver electricity to the 5.8 million customers the dam currently serves.

Hydroelectricity production produces 7.3% of American electricity. When this power supply is insufficient, states are likely to make up the difference by burning fossil fuels that worsen climate change, for example Indoor climate.

For example, California’s hydropower is down 38% from 2020 and in response, the state is expected to increase natural gas electricity by 7%, the AP reports. In the Pacific Northwest, the hydropower deficit is expected to increase coal-fired power generation by 12%.

Considering all this, Indoor climateGearino’s question is whether this means hydropower is becoming a less reliable source of energy as the United States attempts to switch to using more renewable energies.

Unsatisfactory, the answer seems to be that we don’t know yet. While temperatures are sure to rise, the changes in precipitation induced by climate change will vary considerably from region to region.

But when severe drought and extreme heat strike, as they have this year, states like California that rely heavily on hydropower may be forced to purchase additional electricity to meet demand. , which tends to increase when temperatures soar, according to the AP.

Yet the decline in hydroelectric production this year is not without precedent. Through Indoor climate2007 saw a decline of 14.4 percent and in 2012, hydropower production fell 13.5 percent. But the fluctuations highlight how extremes brought on by climate change strain human infrastructure and create additional challenges when it comes to phasing out fossil fuels.


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