8.3 Effects of Climate Change on Renewable Energy Distribution in New York State

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 2:15 PM
Room 15 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Jason M. Covert, SUNY, Albany, NY; and J. M. Freedman, R. Perez, A. Dai, A. Stevens, J. Manobianco, D. B. Kirk-Davidoff, J. W. Zack, and K. Pennock

Renewable energy (wind, solar, and hydropower) is playing an increasingly crucial role in providing electricity to the New York State (NYS) power grid and in facilitating policies focused on addressing climate change. However, very little is known about the potential effects of climate change on these resources. Under the sponsorship of the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a team of researchers comprising a public-private partnership is conducting 1) a comprehensive study to ascertain the potential influence of climate change on NY’s wind, solar, and hydropower resources, and 2) a detailed analysis of how projected changes in the distribution of renewable energy resources will affect NY’s Energy Plan and Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) agenda, and the state’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission targets. To achieve these objectives, the team is
  • Developing an inventory of solar, wind, and hydro (precipitation) data sets to establish a current climatology (1996 -2015) of renewable energy resources;
  • Conducting high resolution model sensitivity studies using downscaled output from a diverse subset of Earth System Models (ESMs) to project the near-future renewable energy resource distribution in NY;
  • Analyzing the near future (2016 – 2035) and mid-future (2036 - 2055) scenario results for changes in the state’s potential renewable energy distribution and variability;
  • Developing information to enable NYSERDA to determine how the future availability and redistribution of wind, solar, and hydropower will affect the state’s efforts to meet targeted and mandated renewable energy generation and GHG reduction goals; and
  • Communicate preliminary and final project results to interested stakeholders in government, academia, utility groups, and industry.

Project work will assess the potential changes and associated uncertainties given available historic data sets and the latest ESM model projections available from the Climate Model Inter-comparison Project-Phase 5 ensemble. Using a high resolution (4 km) mesoscale model, dynamic downscaling of these meteorological fields will provide insight into how regional scale weather patterns influencing NY’s climate regimes (mesoscale phenomena such as the sea breeze) will be affected by climate change in the next 40 years, and how this in turn may alter hub height wind speeds, cloud fraction and cloud distribution (e.g., irradiance), and precipitation and stream flow. For this presentation, we will present preliminary results from the analyses highlighted above.

Results from this work will provide policymakers, local, state, and federal agencies, utilities, the NY Independent System Operator, other interested citizens and organizations with 1) an integrated assessment of the current state of renewable energy resources in the NY, and 2) quantitative estimates and qualitative information as to the potential temporal and spatial redistribution of wind, solar, and hydropower resources developed from modeling sensitivity studies performed for a near-future (2016 - 2035) and mid-future (2036 - 2055) climate change scenarios--Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and RCP 8.5. This integrated approach will enable a comprehensive analysis of how the State’s inventory of renewable energy resources will be influenced by climate change, informing a coherent and directed policy towards development, power transmission and generation infrastructure, thus providing a clear path towards state-wide energy resiliency and GHG reduction. This will enable policymakers and planners in the government, utility distribution, and the private sector, to better understand how the risk associated with the change in availability and distribution of renewable energy resources will affect transmission, distribution, and forecasting of NY’s energy supply and load demand.

A key aspect of this work is the dissemination of project results through a diverse outreach approach. This includes involving the community of interest in project work, from a pre-project workshop (held in Fall 2017) for all interested stakeholders, to dissemination of results to a varied audience at conferences (including this AMS presentation) and workshops. A User Group, consisting of government, industry, utilities, and other interested parties, is playing an active role in ensuring core goals and objectives of the project are met, and preliminary and final project results are provided to members of the aforementioned community. Under NYSERDA's guidance, a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) was formed to serve as a technical resource to the the project team and NYSERDA. PAC feedback is providing the project team and NYSERDA with valuable insight into decision-making processes throughout the project.
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