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Hurricane-blackout-heatwave Compound Hazard Risk and Resilience in a Changing Climate

by   Kairui Feng, et al.

Hurricanes have caused power outages and blackouts, affecting millions of customers and inducing severe social and economic impacts. The impacts of hurricane-caused blackouts may worsen due to increased heat extremes and possibly increased hurricanes under climate change. We apply hurricane and heatwave projections with power outage and recovery process analysis to investigate how the emerging hurricane-blackout-heatwave compound hazard may vary in a changing climate, for Harris County in Texas (including major part of Houston City) as an example. We find that, under the high-emissions scenario RCP8.5, the expected percent of customers experiencing at least one longer-than-5-day hurricane-induced power outage in a 20-year period would increase significantly from 14 end of the 21st century in Harris County. The expected percent of customers who may experience at least one longer-than-5-day heatwave without power (to provide air conditioning) would increase alarmingly, from 0.8 increases of risk may be largely avoided if the climate is well controlled under the stringent mitigation scenario RCP2.6. We also reveal that a moderate enhancement of critical sectors of the distribution network can significantly improve the resilience of the entire power grid and mitigate the risk of the future compound hazard. Together these findings suggest that, in addition to climate mitigation, climate adaptation actions are urgently needed to improve the resilience of coastal power systems.


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