Power lines downed by Hurricane Sandy (Photo: Arlington County/cc/flickr)

Power lines downed by Hurricane Sandy (Photo: Arlington County/cc/flickr)

The combination of fracking and global warming-driven drought is placing an increasing strain on U.S. energy infrastructure, which depends on water for cooling power plants, the Department of Energy has warned. And that’s not all. From Common Dreams:

U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather looks at examples where energy infrastructure has already been impacted by extreme weather events.

In the summer of 2010, for example, two nuclear power plants–Hope Creek in New Jersey and Exelon’s Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania–had to reduce power when the cooling waters from rivers was too high.  Or take July 2011 when an Exxon pipeline beneath the Yellowstone River was ravaged by flood debris, spewing oil into the river.

And coming temperatures increases, heatwaves, droughts and shrinking water supplies are only set to worsen with runaway greenhouse gases, bringing further threats. …

A press release on the report lists more of the upcoming challenges:

  • Increased risk of temporary partial or full shutdowns at thermoelectric (coal, natural gas, and nuclear) power plants because of decreased water availability for cooling and higher ambient and air water temperatures.  Thermoelectric power plants require water cooling in order to operate.  A study of coal plants, for example, found that roughly 60 percent of the current fleet is located in areas of water stress.

  • Increasing risks of physical damage to power lines, transformers and electricity distribution systems from hurricanes, storms and wildfires that are growing more intense and more frequent.

Of course, the Department of Energy’s solution is to build new electric infrastructure, citing “growing demand” for cooling in the face of rising temperatures.

Our solution? Well, given that at only 22 percent of U.S. energy usage is consumed by the residential sector, with most of the rest of it going to produce and peddle useless and/or planet-destroying crap, maybe that 78 percent would be a good place to start, huh? Don’t build more infrastructure, tear down the industries that rely on it! Tear down the global economic system!

See Also:

U.S. Infrastructure Already Crumbling Sep 13th, 2012