Power, Water and Climate

As the planet continues to warm, the twin challenges of diminishing water supply and growing energy demand will intensify.

Shasta Dam

But water and energy are inextricably linked. For instance, nearly a fifth of California’s energy goes toward water-related activities, while more than a tenth of the state’s electricity comes from hydropower. As society tries to adapt to one challenge, it needs to ensure it doesn’t worsen the other.

To this end, researchers from UC Santa Barbara, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have developed a framework to evaluate how different climate adaptations may impact this water-energy nexus. Their research appears in the open access journal Environmental Research Letters.

“Electricity and water systems are linked in many different ways,” said coauthor Ranjit Deshmukh, an assistant professor in the environmental studies department. “Climate change is expected to stress these links so we presented a framework that maps these interdependencies and will enable us to understand and quantify its impacts on the energy-water nexus.”