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

This report, produced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), divides the country into nine regions and looks at specific energy vulnerabilities to climate change in each. This report aims to assist infrastructure owners and utility planners by identifying climate change threats to energy sectors, and providing current resilience solutions.This report is a part of the DOE’s ongoing effort to facilitate climate preparedness and resilience within the energy sector on a local, regional, and national level.

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

An overview of geography and climate impacts is given for each region, and regional energy sector vulnerabilities are explained. 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, and 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, see the below table summarizing 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 include 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 intrasectoral (when impacts affect multiple energy subsectors) and interregional 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 reports website displays an interactive map where users can learn about specific regional climate vulnerabilities, as well as find fact sheets pertaining to each of the 9 regions that the report covers.

 

In order to maintain access to this website, we are linking to an archived version of the website saved on February 2, 2017. The original link can be found here: https://energy.gov/epsa/downloads/climate-change-and-us-energy-sector-regional-vulnerabilities-and-resilience-solutions.

Publication Date: October, 2015

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  • Department of Energy

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  • Assessment

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