Decomposing Supply-Side and Demand-Side Impacts of Climate Change on the US Electricity System Through 2050

Daniel Steinberg, Jordan Macknick, Yinong Sun, Kelly Eurek, Bryan Mignone, Andrew Badger, Ben Livneh, Kristen Averyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus Citations


Climate change may affect the US electricity system through changes in electricity demand, mediated by increases in average surface temperature, and through changes in electricity supply, mediated by changes in both surface temperature and regional water availability. By coupling projections from four general circulation models (GCMs) with a state-of-the-art US electricity system model—the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS)—this study evaluates both the isolated and combined effects of different climate-mediated drivers of US electricity system change through 2050. Comparing results across climate models allows us to evaluate which effects are robust to uncertainty in projected climate outcomes. Comparing effects of different drivers in isolation and in combination allows us to determine the relative contributions of the climate-mediated effects on system evolution. Our results indicate that national-level energy and economic impacts are largely driven by increases in electricity demand that follow from a consistent increase in surface air temperature that is largely robust to the choice of climate model. Other electricity system changes can be equally or more significant in some regions, but these effects are more regionally variable, less significant when aggregated to the national scale, and less robust to the choice of climate model. The findings show that the impacts of climate change on the electricity system can be understood in terms of fewer drivers and with greater certainty at the national level than at the regional level.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)125-139
Number of pages15
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-71273


  • climate change
  • demand
  • electricity
  • impacts
  • power


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