Texas Disaster Exposes a Nation’s Vulnerability to Local weather Change

“We’ve to get higher at understanding these compound impacts,” mentioned Michael Craig, an knowledgeable in vitality methods on the College of Michigan who lately led a study how rising summer season temperatures in Texas may pressure the grid in sudden methods. “It’s an extremely complicated downside to plan for.”

Some utilities are taking discover. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012 knocked out energy for 8.7 million prospects, utilities in New York and New Jersey invested billions in flood partitions, submersible gear and different expertise to scale back the chance of failures. Final month, New York’s Con Edison said it will incorporate local weather projections into its planning.

As freezing temperatures struck Texas, a glitch at one in every of two reactors at a South Texas nuclear plant, which serves 2 million homes, triggered a shutdown. The trigger: Sensing traces related to the plant’s water pumps had frozen, mentioned Victor Dricks, a spokesman for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Company.

It’s additionally frequent for excessive warmth to disrupt nuclear energy. The problem is that the water used to chill reactors can grow to be too heat to make use of, forcing shutdowns.

Flooding is one other threat.

After a tsunami led to a number of meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi energy plant in 2011, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Fee instructed the 60 or so working nuclear crops in the USA, many a long time previous, to judge their flood threat to account for local weather change. Ninety p.c confirmed a minimum of one kind of flood threat that exceeded what the plant was designed to handle.

The best threat got here from heavy rain and snowfall exceeding the design parameters at 53 crops.

Scott Burnell, an Nuclear Regulatory Fee spokesman, mentioned in an announcement, “The NRC continues to conclude, primarily based on the employees’s assessment of detailed analyses, that each one U.S. nuclear energy crops can appropriately cope with potential flooding occasions, together with the consequences of local weather change, and stay secure.”

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