“We have to get better at understanding these compound impacts,” mentioned Michael Craig, an skilled in power techniques on the University of Michigan who just lately led a study how rising summer season temperatures in Texas might pressure the grid in surprising methods. “It’s an incredibly complex problem to plan for.”
Some utilities are taking discover. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012 knocked out energy for 8.7 million clients, utilities in New York and New Jersey invested billions in flood partitions, submersible tools and different expertise to scale back the chance of failures. Last month, New York’s Con Edison said it might incorporate local weather projections into its planning.
As freezing temperatures struck Texas, a glitch at one in every of two reactors at a South Texas nuclear plant, which serves 2 million homes, triggered a shutdown. The trigger: Sensing traces linked to the plant’s water pumps had frozen, mentioned Victor Dricks, a spokesman for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Agency.
It’s additionally frequent for excessive warmth to disrupt nuclear energy. The challenge is that the water used to chill reactors can turn out to be too heat to make use of, forcing shutdowns.
Flooding is one other threat.
After a tsunami led to a number of meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi energy plant in 2011, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission instructed the 60 or so working nuclear vegetation within the United States, many a long time previous, to guage their flood threat to account for local weather change. Ninety p.c confirmed not less than one kind of flood threat that exceeded what the plant was designed to handle.
The best threat got here from heavy rain and snowfall exceeding the design parameters at 53 vegetation.
Scott Burnell, an Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman, mentioned in an announcement, “The NRC continues to conclude, based on the staff’s review of detailed analyses, that all U.S. nuclear power plants can appropriately deal with potential flooding events, including the effects of climate change, and remain safe.”