Now Reading
Climate change poses a serious threat to power grids

Climate change poses a serious threat to power grids

Austin Wang

It’s common knowledge that the oil and natural gas industries are bad for the environment, but the fact that oil and gas threaten electricity supply is much more counterintuitive. Climate change and the resulting extreme weather are a growing cause of blackouts, and as “dirty” energies contribute to climate change, they also indirectly threaten the stability of the power grids they supply.

Blackouts become a rapidly-growing threat

While it may seem far fetched that climate change has caused significant increases in outages, there has been a huge rise in blackouts over the past decade. A report by Climate Central finds that from the mid-1980s to 2012, blackout rates increased tenfold. From 2003 to 2014, an estimated 147 million people were affected by weather-related blackouts.

Storms, tornadoes, and extreme heat all cause blackouts, and climate change only increase the frequency of these events. As global warming continues to raise temperatures, blackouts will become more and more frequent.

Heatwaves make electric grids unusable

Today, heat waves are a serious threat to energy security. Yesterday, one of the largest electric grids in Texas declared an energy conservation emergency as temperatures rose above 100 degrees. As residents scrambled to use air conditioning, electricity demand spiked across Texas. The Energy Reliability Council of Texas suggested that residents reduce energy demand from 3 to 7 pm to prevent blackouts.

Similar energy emergencies could happen all across hot arid regions of the U.S. A study from UCLA’s Institute of Energy and Sustainability found that climate change could cause sweeping blackouts in LA. The combination of a growing population and rising temperatures could easily increase air conditioner use and trigger power grid shutdowns.

Blackouts during extreme heat can be incredibly dangerous as people struggle to cool their homes. In the 1995 Chicago heat wave, an estimated 739 people died due to extreme temperatures and power failures.

See Also
China

Detroit takes a stand to improve power grid security

In Michigan, the state with the most weather-related power outages, citizens are advocating for change. An estimated 800,000 Michigan residents suffer from weather-related blackouts every year and outages are expected to become more frequent.

Detroit has taken steps towards improving power grid security. Utility DTE Energy proposed a $4.2 billion dollar plan to modernize Detroit’s energy grid and make it more resilient to weather-related disasters. However, some argue against fixes that fail to target the root of the problem.

Instead, many activists in Detroit are advocating for the expansion of solar energy. Using solar panels to create community-based micro-grids would allow communities to continue using power during blackouts. Decentralizing the energy supply could also make utility bills cheaper and reduce citizens’ reliance on large utility companies. On a larger scale, solar energy would also slow climate change and the resulting extreme weather effects.

What's Your Reaction?
Excited
0
Funny
0
In Love
0
Not Sure
0
View Comments (4)
  • So electrical grids are susceptible to weather related events. Huh, I thought that was kind of obvious. As to what “may” happen with global warming, that is just speculation masking fear mongering.

    The US had more heat records set in the 30’s than at anytime since. Our population has increased making the chances of a weather event causing a blackout greater, or shift to unreliable renewables also increases that risk as does a lack of infrastructure modernization for the electrical grid in general. None of these things have anything to do with our ever changing climate.

    UCRN data in the US, the best land based data we have, shows 5 of the last 7 months with cooling averages which is counter to the narrative but then again, who cares about facts when you have sensationalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap