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Open Access Publications from the University of California



ABSTRACT This report outlines the results of a study of the impact of climate change on the energy infrastructure of California and the San Francisco Bay region, including impacts on power plant generation; transmission line and substation capacity during heat spells; wildfires near transmission lines; sea level encroachment upon power plants, substations, and natural gas facilities; and peak electrical demand. Some end-of-century impacts were projected: Expected warming will decrease gas-fired generator efficiency. The maximum statewide coincident loss is projected at 10.3 gigawatts (with current power plant infrastructure and population), an increase of 6.2 percent over current temperature-induced losses. By the end of the century, electricity demand for almost all summer days is expected to exceed the current ninetieth percentile per-capita peak load. As much as 21 percent growth is expected in ninetieth percentile peak demand (per-capita, exclusive of population growth). When generator losses are included in the demand, the ninetieth percentile peaks may increase up to 25 percent. As the climate warms, California's peak supply capacity will need to grow faster than the population. Substation capacity is projected to decrease an average of 2.7 percent. A 5C (9F) air temperature increase (the average increase predicted for hot days in August) will diminish the capacity of a fully-loaded transmission line by an average of 7.5 percent. The potential exposure of transmission lines to wildfire is expected to increase with time. We have identified some lines whose probability of exposure to fire are expected to increase by as much as 40 percent. Up to 25 coastal power plants and 86 substations are at risk of flooding (or partial flooding) due to sea level rise.

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