Warming up and powering down – vulnerability of the Russian power industry to the climate change

Researchers from the Moscow Power Engineering Institute have assessed the climate-related impacts on the Russian power industry up to 2050. They argue that current climate change deteriorates the efficiency of the power industries on the entire territory of Russia.  They used a physical simulation approach to replicate a response of the steam and gas turbines performance to the warming.

They found that an increase of the air temperatures worsens the performance of thermal and nuclear power plants across the country. The power drop is 0.2–0.3% and 0.4–0.6% per 1C climate warming for thermal and nuclear power plants respectively. This is far above estimations for the US and European countries due to the colder temperatures in Russia. The average efficiency decrease of the gas turbines is about 0.1% per 1C. The climate response of the gas turbines is distributed through the country with greater negative impacts in southern Russian regions because the higher air temperatures imply greater vulnerability.  The total power drop of the whole power system caused by climate change will cause the additional consumption of 3-4 million of tce (tons of coal equivalent) by 2030–2050 respectively. That means that the power decrease in Russia will be as large as an output of a single large nuclear reactor.

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Fig. 1. Structure of installed capacity of power generation: a — for the whole Russian energy system, b — by regions connected to electric grid

A potential positive impact are annual fuel savings of about 100 million tce, which come with the reduction of the heating demand because of the higher air temperatures. The heating savings are greater than the cost of fuel spending caused by a decrease in power efficiency.

However, the negative impacts of the climate change to the Russian power systems are obvious. They argue that design and control strategies of the power systems should necessarily account for the future changes of the climate conditions.

Original source: Klimenko, V. V., Fedotova, E. V., & Tereshin, A. G. (2018). Vulnerability of the Russian power industry to the climate change. Energy, 142, 1010-1022.

Link to the source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217317747

Cover photo: Rosenergoatom Photo

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