Droughts are cutting into California’s hydropower. Here’s what that means for clean energy.

Hydropower often comes under fire due to its environmental impact, as the dam disrupts the ecosystem. In fact, California does not currently count large hydropower plants among its renewable-power targets. But regardless of how it is classified, hydropower is a low-emission alternative to fossil fuels.

Brian Terroja, an energy researcher at the University of California, Irvine, says that in times of high stress on the grid, the reduced reliability of hydropower is already causing problems.

Last year, a bootleg fire in neighboring Oregon affected many transmission lines in California while heat caused increased demand for electricity. Running a hydropower plant at their drought-reduced capacity while advancing a natural-gas plant was hardly enough to keep the power going.

Taroja says these difficulties are likely to continue. Climate change changes the pattern of precipitation and overall temperature rises even if the rainfall is constant. The effects are likely to challenge hydropower in the coming decades.

Plans with high levels of hydropower may need to start planning for the effects of climate change on power generation. It’s not just California: Hydropower capacity has also been threatened by droughts in Brazil and China in recent years.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.