Research press release


Nature Climate Change

Potential threat to electricity supply in Western United States



今回、Matthew BartosとMikhail Chesterは、3つの二酸化炭素排出シナリオを用いて、西部電力調整委員会管下の14州(カリフォルニア州を含む)における今後の電力信頼性評価を行った。その結果、この地域の現在の発電容量の46%を占める脆弱な発電所では、気候変動によって夏の平均発電容量が1.1~3%減少し、もし10年間の干ばつがあれば、この減少率は7.2~8.8%になる可能性があることが明らかになった。また、カリフォルニア州とコロラド州の河川流域では、気候変動によって平均年の夏の発電容量が2~5.2%減少する可能性があるとされる。今回の研究における予測結果は、10年間の干ばつがあった場合、電力事業者が予備容量を最大で20~25%過大評価している可能性を示唆している。


Climate change may significantly constrain future electricity supply in the Western United States, a new paper published in Nature Climate Change suggests. It estimates that nearly half (46%) of the region’s average summertime generation capacity could be reduced by as much as 3% by the mid-twenty-first century due to changes in water flow, air temperature, and humidity.

Electricity generation can be disrupted by adverse climatic conditions, such as extreme heat and drought. Thermoelectric plants, such as those powered by coal, are most vulnerable to climatic changes. Currently, power providers do not account for climate impacts in their development plans.

Matthew Bartos and Mikhail Chester assessed future electricity reliability under three carbon emission scenarios in 14 states governed by the Western Electricity Coordination Council, including California. They found climate change could reduce average summertime generating capacity by 1.1-3% for vulnerable power stations, which account for 46% of the region’s existing capacity. These reductions could reach 7.2?8.8% if there was a 10-year drought. For the California and Colorado river basins, climate change could reduce annual summertime capacity by 2? 5.2% in an average year. Projections suggest that power providers could be overestimating their reserve capacity by as much as 20-25% in the case of a 10-year drought.

The results show that an over-reliance on traditional thermoelectric generation could mean constrained electricity capacity in the future. The research suggests greater efforts must be made to ‘climate-proof’ the power grid by encouraging conservation strategies, investing in renewable energy, and accounting for climatic constraints when planning new facilities.

doi: 10.1038/nclimate2648

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