“We need to better understand these compound impacts,” said Michael Craig, an energy systems expert at the University of Michigan who recently conducted a study on how rising summer temperatures in Texas could put unexpected pressure on the planet. network. “It’s an incredibly complex problem to predict.”
Some utilities are taking note. After Superstorm Sandy in 2012 cut power to 8.7 million customers, utilities in New York and New Jersey invested billions in flood walls, submersible equipment and other technology to reduce the risk of breakdowns. Last month, Con Edison of New York City said he would incorporate climate projections into his planning.
As freezing temperatures hit Texas, a glitch in one of two reactors at a South Texas nuclear power plant, which serves 2 million homes, triggered a shutdown. The cause: The detection lines connected to the plant’s water pumps had frozen, said Victor Dricks, spokesman for the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Agency.
It is also common for extreme heat to disrupt nuclear energy. The problem is that the water used to cool the reactors can get too hot to use, forcing shutdowns.
Flooding is another risk.
After a tsunami caused several collapses at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission asked the sixty or so decades-old operating nuclear power plants in the United States to assess their performance. risk of flooding to account for climate change. Ninety percent showed at least one type of flood risk that was beyond what the plant was designed to handle.
The greatest risk came from heavy rains and snowfall exceeding design parameters at 53 factories.
Scott Burnell, a spokesperson for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in a statement: “NRC continues to conclude, based on the review of detailed analyzes by staff, that all US nuclear power plants can cope. appropriate to potential flooding, including the effects of climate change. and stay safe. “