Publications

Effects of projected climate change on energy supply and demand in the Pacific Northwest and Washington State

Citation

Hamlet, A.F., Lee, S-Y., Mickelson, K.E.B., Elsner, M.M.  2009. Effects of projected climate change on energy supply and demand in the Pacific Northwest and Washington State. Chapter 4 in The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment: Evaluating Washington’s Future in a Changing Climate, Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


Abstract

Climate strongly affects energy supply and demand in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Washington State (WA). We evaluate potential changes in the seasonality and annual amount of PNW hydropower production and changes in energy demand in a warming climate by linking simulated streamflow scenarios produced by a hydrology model to a simulation model of the Columbia River hydro system. Energy demand, and potential changes therein, are assessed estimates of heating degree days (HDD) and cooling degree days (CDD) for both the 20th Century climate and projections of climate in three future periods (2010-2039, 2030-2059, and 2070-2099) and two emissions scenarios (IPCC A1B and B1). The gridded HDD and CDD values are then combined with population projections to create energy demand indices that respond both to climate, future population, and changes in air conditioning market penetration.

We find that substantial changes in the amount and seasonality of energy supply and demand in the PNW are likely to occur over the next century in response to warming, precipitation changes, and population growth. For the 2020s, regional hydropower production increases by 0.5-4% in winter, decreases by 9-11% in summer, with annual reductions of 1-4%. Slightly larger increases in winter, and summer decreases, are proected for the 2040s and 2080s. In the absence of warming, population growth is projected to result in considerable increases in heating energy demand, however, the combined effects of warming and population growth are projected to result in net increases that are approximately one-half those associated with population growth alone. On the other hand, population growth combined with warming greatly increases the projected demand for cooling energy, notwithstanding that by the 2080s, total cooling energy requirements will still be substantially lower than heating energy demand.