Heat waves are one of the biggest stresses on the electric grid because they reduce the capacity and efficiency of power plants as well as increase demand for air conditioning. However, the associated operational risks and infrastructure requirements in the electricity sector are typically evaluated based on the statistics of historical extreme weather, even though climate change is projected to cause an increase in the severity and frequency of these events.
To provide more accurate assessment of the potential risks posed by climate-driven changes in heat waves and other extreme events, new tools are needed to simulate electric grid operations under time-evolving weather conditions.
Department of Energy scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and collaborators at North Carolina State University have developed a new, open-source production cost and unit commitment model that can be coupled to a temperature-dependent model of electric loads. When driven by high-resolution, hourly temperature data, this coupled modeling system has the ability to represent the impacts of hourly temperature on load conditions and available capacity and efficiency of combustion turbines, and therefore capture the potential impacts on system reserve and production cost. Ongoing work is expanding this capability to address the impacts of water availability and water temperature on power grid operation.