CEC Revamps Global Warming Research

By Published On: August 29, 2008

The California Energy Commission is preparing a research program aimed at understanding the impacts of global warming on the state’s energy system, population, economy, and environment. The new plan, which is to guide the commission’s research efforts for the next few years, would update a plan adopted originally in 2003. The concept is to close knowledge gaps about how projected warming could impact the state’s energy sector, according to Guido Franco, California Climate Change Center program director. Key questions are related to how warmer weather is likely to affect energy use and production. Floods due to increased rainfall in place of snowfall, for instance, not only could affect power plants in the Bay Delta area, but natural gas storage facilities located at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Quicker runoff also could damage hydroelectric generation facilities. Heat waves could spark the need for upgrading the state’s grid, Franco observes. Hotter weather also could diminish the thermal efficiency of power plants, reducing their power output. However, warming also might create opportunities for the state’s energy industry to “pioneer” new technologies that can play a pivotal role in adapting to climate change, according to Franco. To help shape the research plan, the commission’s staff spent four days between August 20 and 25 listening to scientists. They touched on a wide variety of issues, from how warming may affect the state’s water resources to how it could impact farming, forestry, and public health. Having heard from the scientists, the commission staff plans to work on developing a new plan.

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