A. Dyreson, N. Devineni, S. W.D. Turner, T. De Silva M, A. Miara, N. Voisin, S. Cohen, J. Macknick
Department of Energy, Office of Science, Earth & Environmental Systems Modeling Program Acknowledged Support: Yes, MultiSector Dynamics Program
Identifying the sensitivity of future power systems to climate extremes must consider the concurrent effects of changing climate and evolving power systems. We investigated the sensitivity of a Western U.S. power system to isolated and combined heat and drought when it has low (5%) and moderate (31%) variable renewable energy shares, representing historic and future systems. We used an electricity operational model combined with a model of historically extreme drought (for hydropower and freshwater-reliant thermoelectric generators) over the Western U.S. and a synthetic, regionally extreme heat event in Southern California (for thermoelectric generators and electricity load). We found that the drought has the highest impact on summertime production cost (+10 to +12%), while temperature-based deratings have minimal effect (at most +1%). The Southern California heat wave scenario impacting load increases summertime regional net imports to Southern California by 10 to 14%, while the drought decreases them by 6 to 12%. Combined heat and drought conditions have a moderate effect on imports to Southern California (-2%) in the historic system and a stronger effect (+8%) in the future system. Southern California dependence on other regions decreases in the summertime with the moderate increase in variable renewable energy (-34% imports), but hourly peak regional imports are maintained under those infrastructure changes. By combining synthetic and historically-driven conditions to test two infrastructures, we consolidate the importance of considering compounded heat wave and drought in planning studies and suggest that region-to-region energy transfers during peak periods are key to optimal operations under climate extremes.