Extreme Weather Threatens to Destabilize the Energy Supply

Extreme Weather Threatens to Destabilize the Energy Supply

Warming and severe extreme weather events due to climate change are directly affecting the energy supply. Oil pipelines are particularly at risk of damage from flooding and landslides. Nuclear power plants are shut down when river water is too warm to cool the reactors. And while drought conditions significantly lower the amount of electricity produced by hydropower plants, windstorms can render wind and solar power useless.

Why This Matters

States across the US are already experiencing the damaging effects of climate change on the energy supply. Last year, Texas suffered a devastating cold snap that caused rolling outages and killed over 200 people. Plunging temperatures and heavy snow and ice caused natural gas wells and pipelines to freeze, which skyrocketed demand and busted 30 gigawatts worth of energy generators. Despite last year's fiasco in Texas, the state's power grid is wildly underprepared for future cold snaps -- just last month, almost one million cubic feet of gas was wasted during a small cold front.

25 News KXXV: Texas natural gas production dropped amid cold front, experts raise concerns over power grid, January 6, 2022.

KVUE ABC: ERCOT - Texas is not ready for extreme weather, November 22, 2021.

An Outdated System

Texas is not the only state to be unprepared for climate change conditions. The entire US power grid is outdated and failing at an increasing rate due to extreme weather events. Transitioning to renewable energy sources is a necessary solution to the energy crisis because it won’t further contribute to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and it will diversify the energy sources in the US power grid, creating increased security from overwhelming demand. Renewable energy is not immune to extreme climate events, but in the case of Texas, it performed better in freezing conditions than previously predicted. Investing in a "green" modern power grid could save US taxpayers billions of dollars, while simultaneously stabilizing the energy crisis and lowering GHG emissions.

Vox: Texas's power disaster is a warning sign for the US, March 4, 2021.

Reuters: 2021 saw jump in greenhouse-gas emissions, says report, January 10, 2022.

CNBC: How The US Can Build A 100% Clean Grid, January 27, 2021.