Climate Change and Energy Sector

Energy systems consist of all the infrastructure needed to collect, produce, distribute, store, and consume power for our homes, businesses etc. From manufacturing to agriculture, and health care to transportation, the nation depends on a stable energy supply.

The energy sector is the major contributor to climate change through its high GHG emissions and in turn, changes in climate can disrupt energy networks themselves, stress infrastructure, and pose safety risks to people. Rising population, economic growth, and changing patterns are the key factors to increase energy demand.

Energy system is vulnerable to a wide range of climate change impacts. These include rising temperatures and heat waves, cold and snow events, severe drought, intense rainfall, sea level rise, hurricanes, and wildfires. While these impacts differ from one region to another, they will continue to affect all areas of the country. Moreover, impacts to one part of the energy system or in one region can affect other parts of the system or other areas.

Today 70% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) emissions come from fossil fuel combustion for electricity generation, in industry, buildings and transport – and these emissions are projected to rise.


Global Scenario:

Climate change may affect the energy sector at both local and regional scales. Climate change threatens the ways in which power reaches our homes and businesses.

For example,

  • Transmission lines are prone to damage during extreme weather.
  • Snow and ice, wildfires, and extreme wind can damage above-ground powerlines and transmission towers.
  • Flooding can affect underground powerlines and damage roads, railroads, pipelines, and storage facilities.
  • Near the coast, storm surge can destroy petroleum storage tanks and wash out roads and railways.
  • Warmer temperatures, especially hot summer temperatures, can affect power transmission. When temperatures rise, the carrying capacity of transmission lines decreases.
  • Increasing energy production is likely to increase emissions of certain air pollutants and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Key Findings on Projected Climate Change Implications for Energy Sector in Pakistan

1. Reduction in water availability for hydropower generation. The most likely impact of global warming is the recession of Himalayan glaciers that is the largest source of fresh water supply in the country, and this would very likely affect the country’s power generation systems.

2. Extreme climate events damaging oil, gas, and power infrastructure. The other major likely impact on the energy sector is damage to oil and gas infrastructure due to heavy precipitation leading to flooding.

3. Hotter temperatures increase energy demand. Due to increase in air conditioning requirements particularly in summer, energy demand is expected to increase. Further, climate change induces higher temperatures, and evaporation will increase electricity needs for pumping water for agriculture irrigation.

4. Warmer air and water temperatures may affect efficiency of nuclear and thermal power plants. Increase in water temperatures used for cooling of nuclear and thermal power plants will affect the power plants’ efficiency.

Musawar Hussain

Musawar Hussain

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