Climate Change in the Midwest: Impacts, Risks, Vulnerability, and Adaptation

By S. C. Pryor | Go to book overview

12.
Vulnerability of the Electricity and Water
Sectors to Climate Change in the Midwest

D. J. GOTHAM, J. R. ANGEL, AND S. C. PRYOR


energy, water, and Climate Change

The water and energy sectors exhibit high exposure to climate change and variability, and as discussed in chapters 2 and 17 of this volume, water and energy are also highly interlinked. Water systems use large volumes of energy, and equally, the energy sector is a major consumer of water (see chapter 2). According to some estimates, water supply and treatment consumes 4 percent of the national power supply in the United States, and electricity accounts for a substantial fraction of the cost of municipal water processing and transport (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2000). As described herein, water is essential to electricity production from fossil fuels, and a key tendency that may substantially increase water demand within the Midwest is expansion of ethanol production (see chapter 2 of this volume). Conversion of corn grain and stover to ethanol requires nearly five times as much water to generate fuel to travel one kilometer than is used in conversion of crude oil to gasoline (Scown et al. 2011). In this chapter we introduce some of the primary ways in which climate change may cause changes in the risks realized in the energy and water sectors, the interlinkages between water and energy, and possible methods to reduce vulnerabilities in both sectors.


electricity and Climate Change

In this section we focus on the electricity industry, while acknowledging that the entire energy sector is at the heart of the climate change policy—both as a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (and thus an avenue for mitigation activities) (Metz et al. 2007) and as a component of the socioeconomic system that may experience significant impacts from a changing climate in terms of both supply and demand. As discussed in chapter 2 of this volume, the Midwest has a highly energy-intensive economy, in part because many states are net exporters of electricity. Accordingly, the Midwest is home to a large num ber of fossil-fuel and nuclearfueled electricity generating power plants (see Table 12.1 and chapter 2 for maps of the major facilities).

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