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Technology Pathways Could Help Drive the U.S. West Coast Grid's Exposure to Hydrometeorological Uncertainty
Previous studies investigating deep decarbonization of bulk electric power systems and wholesale electricity markets have not sufficiently explored how future grid pathways could affect the grid's vulnerability to hydrometeorological uncertainty on multiple timescales. Here, we employ a grid operations model and a large synthetic weather ensemble to “stress test” a range of future grid pathways for the U.S. West Coast developed by ReEDS, a well‐known capacity planning model. Our results show that gradual changes in the underlying capacity mix from 2020 to 2050 can cause significant “re‐ranking” of weather years in terms of annual wholesale electricity prices (with “good” years becoming bad, and vice versa). Nonetheless, we find the highest and lowest ranking price years in terms of average electricity price remain mostly tied to extremes in hydropower availability (streamflow) and load (summer temperatures), with the strongest sensitivities related to drought. Seasonal dynamics seen today involving spring snowmelt and hot, dry summers remain well‐defined out to 2050. In California, future supply shortfalls in our model are concentrated in the evening and occur mostly during periods of high temperature anomalies in late summer months and in late winter; in the Pacific Northwest, supply shortfalls are much more strongly tied tomore »
Reservoirs Modify River Thermal Regime Sensitivity to Climate Change: A Case Study in the Southeastern United States
Seasonal thermal stratification in reservoirs changes the thermal regime of regulated river systems as well as stream temperature responses to climate change. Cold releases from the reservoir hypolimnion can depress downstream river temperature during warm seasons. Recent large‐scale climate change studies on stream temperature have largely ignored reservoir thermal stratification. In this study, we used established models to develop a framework which considers water demand and reservoir regulation with thermal stratification and applied this model framework to the southeastern United States. About half of all 271 reservoirs in our study area retain strong thermal stratification by the 2080s (2070–2099) under RCP8.5 even as median residence times decrease to 60 days from 69 days in the historic period (1979–2010). Reservoir impacts on downstream temperatures become slightly weaker in the future because of higher air temperature and stronger solar radiation. We defined a “cooling potential” to quantify the thermal energy that a water body can absorb before exceeding a water temperature threshold. In the future, higher river temperatures will reduce the cooling potential for all river segments, but more so for river segments minimally impacted by thermal stratification. Reservoir impacts on cooling potential remain strong for river segments downstream of reservoirs with strongmore »