Climate Change and the U.S. Energy Sector: DOE Regional Vulnerabilities and Resilience Solutions

Produced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), this report addresses the energy vulnerabilities to climate change in each of nine regions across the U.S. This report aims to assist infrastructure owners and utility planners by identifying climate change threats to energy sectors, and providing current resilience solutions - on a local, regional, and national level.

The report addresses the climate impacts in 9 regions: Northwest, Southwest, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Alaska, and Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Critical vulnerabilities are summarized as specific to each region, as well climate impacts that affect major energy systems.

In depth analysis of climate vulnerabilities are provided for the following energy sectors:

  • hydroelectric power
  • electricity demand
  • electric grid
  • thermoelectric power
  • generation
  • thermoelectric power generation
  • fuel transport
  • wind energy

The report also provides regional climate change observations and projections regarding higher temperatures, precipitation, extreme weather, sea level rise, and changing water patterns. In addition to explaining climate vulnerabilities, resilience solutions for each energy sector are explored. For example, this table summarizes vulnerabilities and potential solutions for the Southern Great Plains.

The report identifies challenges that obstruct current efforts to improve climate resilience within the energy sectors. These challenges are categorized into four groups: technological, informational, institutional, and policy. Challenges discussed include the high cost of climate resilient technologies, poor understanding of costs and benefits of resilience measures, competing objectives of different stakeholders, and policy uncertainty. The report also acknowledges that intra-sectoral (when impacts affect multiple energy sub-sectors) and inter-regional vulnerabilities (when impacts in one region affect other regions) can add additional challenges (see table 11-1 for examples).

The report gives recommendations on how to facilitate private and public sector collaboration and how decision makers can effectively plan when information is uncertain. The report includes details on current resilience actions adopted by planners, owners, and operators in its appendixes.

The report's website displays an interactive map where users can learn about specific regional climate vulnerabilities, as well as fact sheets for each of the 9 regions. 

Publication Date: October 2015

Authors or Affiliated Users:

Related Organizations:

  • Department of Energy


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment


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