Effects of projected climate change on energy supply and demand in the Pacific Northwest and Washington State
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Climate strongly affects energy supply and demand in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Washington State (WA). We evaluate potential effects of climate change on the seasonality and annual amount of PNW hydropower production, and on heating and cooling energy demand. Changes in hydropower production are estimated by linking simulated streamflow scenarios produced by a hydrology model to a simulation model of the Columbia River hydro system. Changes in energy demand are assessed using gridded estimates of heating degree days (HDD) and cooling degree days (CDD) which are then combined with population projections to create energy demand indices that respond both to climate, future population, and changes in residential air conditioning market penetration. We find that substantial changes in the amount and seasonality of energy supply and demand in the PNW are likely to occur over the next century in response to warming, precipitation changes, and population growth. By the 2040s hydropower production is projected to increase by 4.7–5.0% in winter, decrease by about 12.1–15.4% in summer, with annual reductions of 2.0–3.4%. Larger decreases of 17.1–20.8% in summer hydropower production are projected for the 2080s. Although the combined effects of population growth and warming are projected to increase heating energy demand overall (22–23% for the 2020s, 35–42% for the 2040s, and 56–74% for the 2080s), warming results in reduced per capita heating demand. Residential cooling energy demand (currently less than one percent of residential demand) increases rapidly (both overall and per capita) to 4.8–9.1% of the total demand by the 2080s due to increasing population, cooling degree days, and air conditioning penetration.
KeywordsEnergy Demand Hydropower Production Columbia River Basin Electrical Energy Demand Cooling Energy Demand
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