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A Framework for Climate Change Adaptation Planning of California’s Electricity-Water Nexus

March 9, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Julia Szinai

Speaker Bio

California’s electricity system is closely linked to its water system: 19% of electricity consumption relates to water pumping, conveyance, treatment, and end-use, and 15% of electricity generation is from hydropower. Climate change impacts—including higher temperatures, shrinking snowpack, and more frequent droughts—will exacerbate these interdependencies. Further, climate adaptation actions in the water sector can affect the electricity sector because new water supplies are usually energy intensive. However, it is unclear from prior assessments which climate impacts across multiple energy-water dependencies are most critical, how much those impacts may compound, and the extent of adaptation tradeoffs. Therefore, we first create a holistic framework cataloguing the implications of climate change on these cross-sectoral connections. From the framework, we develop a reduced-form model of California’s water and electricity supply-demand balances and quantify potential resource imbalances given the span of end-century climate impacts projected from the literature. Finally, we compare electricity demands arising from different water adaptations that could fill imbalances. Our results suggest future climate-driven scarcity in the electricity sector and a wide range of scarcity or surplus in the water sector. Electricity demand for California’s water adaptations are on the same order of magnitude as direct climate change impacts on electricity, indicating the importance to electricity planning of close coordination with the interdependent water system. These results also inform our ongoing work linking a California grid planning model with a water resource model to optimize future grid buildouts given projected critical climate impacts.

Speaker Bio

Julia is currently a PhD student in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, and has a M.S in Energy and Resources and a M.P.P from the Goldman School of Public Policy. Julia is researching climate change adaptation of the electricity and water sectors in California, and also is interested in how various distributed energy resources (energy efficiency, demand response and smart charging electric vehicles) can facilitate integration of renewable resources onto the electricity grid in California. She previously worked as a GSRA at LBL in the Energy Technologies Area (Building 90). Prior to graduate studies, she consulted in the energy and finance sectors and worked at Pacific Gas & Electric in long-term resource planning and forecasting electric generation and its cost. Julia has a B.A. in economics and Spanish from UC Berkeley.


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