Droughts are cutting hydropower in California.  Here’s what it means for clean energy.

Droughts are cutting hydropower in California. Here’s what it means for clean energy.

Hydropower often be under fire due to the impact on the environment, because dams disrupt ecosystems. In fact, currently California does not count large hydropower plants in their renewable energy goals. But no matter how it is categorized, hydropower is a an alternative with lower emissions on fossil fuels.

During the period of high stress on the network, the reduced reliability of hydropower is already causing problems, he says Brian Tarrojaenergy researcher at the University of California, Irvine.

Last year, a Bootleg fire in neighboring Oregon engulfed several power lines in California at a time when high temperatures were boosting electricity demand. The launch of hydropower plants with their capacity reduced due to drought with an increase in natural gas power plants was barely enough to hold power.

These difficulties are likely to continue, says Tarroja. Climate change is changing precipitation patterns and causing higher temperatures, even if total rainfall remains constant. The effects are likely challenge hydroelectric power plant in the coming decades.

Places with high levels of hydropower may need to start planning for the effects of climate change on electricity production. It’s not just California: there are droughts in Brazil and China as well endangered hydroelectric power plant capacity in recent years.



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