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Power Supply in Hot Water

04 Jun 2012  |   Melissa Yeo

A warming climate is starting to take its toll on the future of power generation. According to a new article in Nature Climate Change, rising water temperatures will soon make it harder for power plants to generate electricity. 

Researchers predict that the number of days when river water is at “extremely high” temperatures will be three times the number today, on average. With less water available for cooling, power plants will be unable to operate at full potential, causing a drop in generating capacity of 4.4 to 16 percent on hot days from 2031 to 2060. Hydroelectric dams will also be less productive.

The study also found that warmer water will cause more power disruptions for nuclear and coal plants in the U.S. and Europe, with the likelihood of extreme drops in power generation projected to almost triple.

Warmer weather won’t just decrease power generation – it’ll also raise electricity demand, creating a jump in prices. Already, Texas faces power shortages that may force the state to triple its peak power prices in order to avert blackouts.

Mitt Romney may ridicule wind power initiatives, but with a hotter world threatening to cut power supplies, we can no longer afford to ignore clean, alternative sources of energy. A transition away from our reliance on conventional fuels and toward renewable options is critical to America’s economic sustainability.

Read more at the New York Times.



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