How Heat Impacts Our Power Grid

According to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, extreme weather like heat waves for example are impacting aging energy grids—while droughts and wildfires cause even more strain.

Dhruv Bhatnagar is an energy systems engineer at PNNL.

“The changing climate is really changing how hydropower may operate in the future. We don’t really know how exactly it’s going to change but at pnnl we’ve been trying to do a lot of modeling,” said Bhatnagar.

The pacific northwest is fueled by several different power sources. However, our hydropower system is the main form of energy. In fact, Bhatnagar says California uses our hydropower system as well.

“If their high demands coincide with us having high demands because of heatwaves, then the overall electricity demand is a lot higher,” said Bhatnagar.

When there is extreme weather, like heat waves, it creates a few problems.

One issue is that heatwaves lead to more use of commercial electricity since demand is higher. Second, hot weather limits how much electricity can be accessed. Third, it makes it difficult for power plants to operate.

That’s where PNNL comes in, to discover possibilities for the future of energy.

<“Whether it’s hydro, whether is wind, how customers are working on a, other loads. Thinking about smarter buildings using less electricity more efficient appliances,” said Bhatnagar.

There are a couple of things we can do to help our power situation to reduce our energy load, especially during heatwaves. This can look like reducing thermostat temperature or running large appliances at times other than in the evening.

“It’ll take everyone and all sorts of efforts across the board-new generation, better operation of our systems as they exist and then also customer changing how they interact with energy,” said Bhatnagar. “The whole village needs to work together to make it happen. And all of it is doable. Is doable at a reasonable cost, too.”

To learn more about their research click here.

Source: NBC Right Now