Federal Coordinating Lead Author:
Craig D. Zamuda, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Policy
Chapter Lead:
Craig D. Zamuda, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Policy
Chapter Authors:
Daniel E. Bilello, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Guenter Conzelmann, Argonne National Laboratory
Ellen Mecray, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Ann Satsangi, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy
Vincent Tidwell, Sandia National Laboratories
Brian J. Walker, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Review Editor:
Sara C. Pryor, Cornell University
USGCRP Coordinators:
Natalie Bennett, Adaptation and Assessment Analyst
Christopher W. Avery, Senior Manager

Energy Supply, Delivery, and Demand

Energy systems and the impacts of climate change differ across the United States, but all regions will be affected by a changing climate. The petroleum, natural gas, and electrical infrastructure along the East and Gulf Coasts are at increased risk of damage from rising sea levels and hurricanes of greater intensity (see Ch. 18: Northeast, KM 3 and Ch. 19: Southeast, KM 1 and 2). This vulnerable infrastructure serves other parts of the country, so regional disruptions are projected to have national implications. Hawai‘i and the U.S. Caribbean (see Ch. 27: Hawai‘i & Pacific Islands, KM 3 and Ch. 20: U.S. Caribbean, KM 3 and 5) are especially vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather, as they rely on imports of petroleum through coastal infrastructure, ports, and storage facilities. Oil and gas operations in Alaska are vulnerable to thawing permafrost, which, together with sea level rise and dwindling protective sea ice, is projected to damage existing infrastructure and restrict seasonal access; however, a longer ice-free season may enhance offshore energy exploration and transport (see Ch. 26: Alaska, KM 5). More frequent and intense extreme precipitation events are projected to increase the risk of floods for coastal and inland energy infrastructure, especially in the Northeast and Midwest (see Ch. 18: Northeast, KM 1 and 3 and Ch. 21: Midwest, KM 5). Temperatures are rising in all regions, and these increases are expected to drive greater use of air conditioning. The increase in annual electricity demand across the country for cooling is offset only marginally by the relatively small decline in heating demand that is met with electric power.11 In addition, higher temperatures reduce the thermal efficiency and generating capacity of thermoelectric power plants and reduce the efficiency and current-carrying capacity of transmission and distribution lines.

Energy systems in the Northwest and Southwest are likely to experience the most severe impacts of changing water availability, as reductions in mountain snowpack and shifts in snowmelt timing affect hydropower production (see Ch. 24: Northwest, KM 3 and Ch. 25: Southwest, KM 5). Drought will likely threaten fuel production, such as fracking for natural gas and shale oil; enhanced oil recovery in the Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, and Northern and Southern Great Plains; oil refining; and thermoelectric power generation that relies on surface water for cooling. In the Midwest, Northern Great Plains, and Southern Great Plains, higher temperatures and reduced soil moisture will likely make it more difficult to grow biofuel crops and impact the availability of wood and wood waste products for heating, fuel production, and electricity generation (see Ch. 22: N. Great Plains, KM 4 and Ch. 23: S. Great Plains, KM 1 and 2).

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