Energy: Supply, Demand, and Impacts
Tidwell, V. C., L. Dale, G. Franco, K. Averyt, M. Wei, D. M. Kammen, and J. H. Nelson. 2013. “Energy: Supply, Demand, and Impacts.” In Assessment of Climate Change in the Southwest United States: A Report Prepared for the National Climate Assessment, edited by G. Garfin, A. Jardine, R. Merideth, M. Black, and S. LeRoy, 240–266. A report by the Southwest Climate Alliance. Washington, DC: Island Press.
Energy is important to the Southwest United States, where 12.7% of the nation’s energy is produced (extracted or generated) and 12.1% is consumed. The region is in the favorable position of having low per-capita energy consumption (222 million BTUs per person) relative to that of the nation as a whole (302 million BTUs per person); nevertheless, disruption of power has significant economic implications for the region (e.g., LaCommare and Eto 2004; Northwest Power and Conservation Council 2005). Climate change itself, as well as strategies aimed at mitigation and adaptation have the potential to impact the production, demand, and delivery of energy in a number of ways.
• Delivery of electricity may become more vulnerable to disruption due to climateinduced extreme heat and drought events as a result of:
− increased demand for home and commercial cooling,
− reduced thermal power plant efficiencies due to high temperatures,
− reduced transmission line, substation, and transformer capacities due to elevated temperatures,
− potential loss of hydropower production,
− threatened thermoelectric generation due to limited water supply, and
− the threat of wildfire to transmission infrastructure.
• Climate-related policies have the potential to significantly alter the energy sector. A shift from the traditional fossil fuel economy to one rich in renewables has significant implications for related water use, land use, air quality, national security, and the economy. The vulnerability of the energy system in the Southwest to climate change depends on how the energy system evolves over this century.
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