Barriers and Opportunities
Edited by Rosemary Lyster and Robert R.M. Verchick
Chapter 14: Protecting the power grid from climate disasters
The threats of extreme weather and slow-onset events to electricity infrastructure have been well documented. Like so many climate change threats, the problem of enhancing resilience in this infrastructure is less a lack of smart technology and more a lack of smart policy. But also the relationship between generators, transmission and distribution networks, and users, which has been pretty straightforward since the days of Westinghouse and Edison, is rapidly changing. It now seems that the way to make the power grid more resilient in cases of extreme events — particularly the kinds aggravated by climate change — is to pay more attention to its durability and flexibility. Localized technologies like rooftop-solar generation now allow users to also act as generators in distributed energy systems. Digital systems embedded in transmission networks can now control how much power commercial users request at certain times or how much power generators will produce, giving the network some characteristics of the user and the generator. We divide that work into three categories: hardening the grid, smartening the grid, and greening the grid, and point to the law and policy innovations which are needed.
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