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DOE Announces Safeguards to Protect Energy from Climate Change


GridOn Thursday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) released a report that stated that action must be taken to address the increasing number of blackouts and disruptions to power and fuel delivery across the nation.

The droughts of 2013, coupled with hotter temperatures across the country and rising sea levels are impacting the ability of the US to produce and transmit electricity that derives from fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy sources. According to the DOE, these disruptions are likely to become more and more intense in coming years.

None of these findings are a surprise to the energy industry. Energy companies are seeing increasing strain on their systems, leaving the public utility commissions and public utilities responsible for finding solutions.

According to the DOE, there are five key technologies that can create a more climate-resilient US energy sector.

Power Grid UpgradeSmart grid technologies are going to be critical in the future in order to prevent widespread outages during storms and other extreme weather events. There is also a need for energy storage and grid monitoring. The DOE has found that a central power station model might make the most sense and microgrids with distributed generation would make the grid able to withstand major climate events.

Crisis-Hardened Facilities – The DOE has stated that substations and other critical local electricity infrastructures must be located in areas not susceptible to storm surges. The buildings themselves must be built strong enough to withstand major climate events. Strategic placement of these facilities would also reduce the risk to wildfires, floods, sea level rise, and storms.

Less Water-Intensive FrackingFracking has become popular as a mainstream method for obtaining oil, but it involves high-pressure injection of massive amounts of water under the earth’s surface. The DOE urges companies to recycle fracking waste water instead of using large amounts of freshwater.

Drought-Resistant Biofuel Crops – Doing away with non-irrigated perennial grass and other drought-resistant feed stocks for cellulosic ethanol would reduce water usage considerably.

Water Conservation at Power Plants – The DOE is urging power plants to employ methods to dramatically reduce water use for electricity. Nuclear power plants and steam-driven power plants have historically used massive amounts of water for cooling, but by retrofitting these plants with dry-cooling mechanisms, they will be able to reduce water consumption.

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