Drought induced Blackouts

Water energy nexus

The water-energy nexus goes both ways. It takes energy to supply potable water to our homes, and it takes massive amounts of water to produce the energy we use. Prof. Micheal Webber of UT Austin wrote an op-ed for the NYTime about the dangers faced by the climate change induced drought the US is experiencing.

Our energy system depends on water. About half of the nation’s water withdrawals every day are just for cooling power plants. In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing…

All told, we withdraw more water for the energy sector than for agriculture…

energy use by sector

New carbon emissions standards can also help save water. A plan proposed by the Obama administration (requiring new power plants to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour generated) would encourage utilities to choose less carbon- and water-intensive fuels. Conventional coal plants, which are very thirsty, exceed the standards proposed by the president. But relatively clean, and water-lean, power plants that use wind, solar panels and natural gas combined cycle, would meet them. Thus, by enforcing CO2 limits, a lot of water use can be avoided.

Drought induced blackouts

via Will Drought Cause the Next Blackout? – NYTimes.com.

Related in the NYTimes – more reporting on how the weird weather is causing unanticipated failures at power plants, transportation networks, and water system.

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Climate Change Map of the Day – Heat Wave 2012

As 56% of the lower 48 are in a drought, we have an epic heatwave!

The 8 Worst Things About Summer in American Cities - Neighborhoods - The Atlantic Cities

This image released on July 3, 2012, shows the average maximum temperature forecast from July 3-7. Black signifies a temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, bright orange signifies 109 F.

CREDIT: NOAA National Weather Service Hydrometeorological Prediction Center [I can’t find the original, just this attribution..]

The silver lining of the drought this year is the potentially smaller Gulf Dead Zone due to reduced runoff laden excess fertilizer with from the corn belt. (via grist.com)

Map via:

The 8 Worst Things About Summer in American Cities – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities.

Also spotted on:

http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/3148-how-long-will-heat-last.html

www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/when-will-the-heat-end-us-heat-wave_n_1654817.html