Hydroelectric stations like Shasta Dam, along the Sacramento River, are integral to California’s water and energy needs. Photo Credit: U.S. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION

Power, Water and Climate

Jan 7, 2021 at 5:00am

Harrison Tasoff, The Current

As the planet continues to warm, the twin challenges of diminishing water supply and growing energy demand will intensify. But water and energy are inextricably linked. For instance, nearly a fifth of California’s energy goes toward water-related activities, while more than a tenth of the state’s electricity comes from hydropower. As society tries to adapt to one challenge, it needs to ensure it doesn’t worsen the other.

To this end, researchers from UC Santa Barbara, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have developed a framework to evaluate how different climate adaptations may impact this water-energy nexus. Their research appears in the open access journal Environmental Research Letters.

“Electricity and water systems are linked in many different ways,” said coauthor Ranjit Deshmukh, an assistant professor in the environmental studies department. “Climate change is expected to stress these links so we presented a framework that maps these interdependencies and will enable us to understand and quantify its impacts on the energy-water nexus.”

Although it’s not the first study to look at these topics, it takes a more nuanced approach than the papers that have come before.

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