June 18, 2021 Read More →

Global heat waves test power grids, lead to potential blackouts

The Japan Times: 

Texas and California are at risk of blackouts as a sprawling heat wave smothers the western U.S. Cities across China’s industrial heartland are rationing electricity. European power prices are far higher than usual for this time of year. Droughts are drying up reservoirs from Brazil to Taiwan.

Welcome to the future of rising temperatures and the escalating fight just to keep lights on. Mix extreme heat and longer droughts, surging post-pandemic power demand, rising fossil fuel prices and a bumpy transition into renewables, and the result is a severe global power crunch. For millions of households and businesses around the world, it could be a long, hot summer of higher bills, periodic rationing and, in the worst case, blackouts. Higher energy costs will also add to the inflationary pressures coursing through the global economy.

The extreme weather — even before the onset of hurricane and typhoon seasons — highlights the real world impact of climate change. Higher temperatures boost energy use as people switch on the air conditioner, but power systems, especially those trying to navigate away from coal and other fossil fuels, are often vulnerable to the volatility in demand.

[ Dan Murtaugh, Josh Saul and Naureen Malik ] 

More: Global power grids pushed to breaking point by summer heat and rising demand

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