The Role of Regional Connections in Planning for Future Power System Operations Under Climate Extremes

Ana Dyreson, Naresh Devineni, Sean Turner, Thushara De Silva M, Ariel Miara, Nathalie Voisin, Stuart Cohen, Jordan Macknick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


Identifying the sensitivity of future power systems to climate extremes must consider the concurrent effects of changing climate and evolving power systems. We investigated the sensitivity of a Western U.S. power system to isolated and combined heat and drought when it has low (5%) and moderate (31%) variable renewable energy shares, representing historic and future systems. We used an electricity operational model combined with a model of historically extreme drought (for hydropower and freshwater-reliant thermoelectric generators) over the Western U.S. and a synthetic, regionally extreme heat event in Southern California (for thermoelectric generators and electricity load). We found that the drought has the highest impact on summertime production cost (+10% to +12%), while temperature-based deratings have minimal effect (at most +1%). The Southern California heat wave scenario impacting load increases summertime regional net imports to Southern California by 10–14%, while the drought decreases them by 6–12%. Combined heat and drought conditions have a moderate effect on imports to Southern California (−2%) in the historic system and a stronger effect (+8%) in the future system. Southern California dependence on other regions decreases in the summertime with the moderate increase in variable renewable energy (−34% imports), but hourly peak regional imports are maintained under those infrastructure changes. By combining synthetic and historically driven conditions to test two infrastructures, we consolidate the importance of considering compounded heat wave and drought in planning studies and suggest that region-to-region energy transfers during peak periods are key to optimal operations under climate extremes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2021EF002554
Number of pages18
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. Battelle Memorial Institute and Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A40-81221


  • climate extremes
  • drought
  • electricity systems
  • heat wave
  • infrastructure
  • operation


Dive into the research topics of 'The Role of Regional Connections in Planning for Future Power System Operations Under Climate Extremes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this