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Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnterabilities: Technical Report to the U.S. Department of Energy in Support of the National Climate Assessment

July 5, 2012 Comments off

Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnterabilities: Technical Report to the U.S. Department of Energy in Support of the National Climate Assessment (PDF)
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

This Technical Report on “Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnerabilities” has been prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in support of the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA). Prepared on an accelerated schedule to fit time requirements for the NCA, it is a summary of the currently existing knowledge base on its topic, nested within a broader framing of issues and questions that need further attention in the longer run.

The report arrives at a number of “assessment findings,” each associated with an evaluation of the level of consensus on that issue within the expert community, the volume of evidence available to support that judgment, and the section of the report that provides an explanation for the finding.

Cross-sectoral issues related to infrastructures and urban systems have not received a great deal of attention to date in research literatures in general and climate change assessments in particular. As a result, this technical report is breaking new ground as a component of climate change vulnerability and impact assessments in the U.S., which means that some of its assessment findings are rather speculative, more in the nature of propositions for further study than specific conclusions that are offered with a high level of confidence and research support. But it is a start in addressing questions that are of interest to many policymakers and stakeholders.

A central theme of the report is that vulnerabilities and impacts are issues beyond physical infrastructures themselves. The concern is with the value of services provided by infrastructures, where the true consequences of impacts and disruptions involve not only the costs associated with the clean-up, repair, and/or replacement of affected infrastructures but also economic, social, and environmental effects as supply chains are disrupted, e

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Application of Spatial Data Modeling and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for Identification of Potential Siting Options for Various Electrical Generation Sources

March 2, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Oak Ridge National Laboratory (U.S. Department of Energy)
From press release (EurekAlert!):
A technology developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could streamline and strengthen the process for siting power plants while potentially enhancing the nation’s energy security.
Oak Ridge Siting Analysis for power Generation Expansion, or OR-SAGE, divides the United States into nearly 700 million 2.5-acre cells that can be studied to determine if they are candidates for one or more types of electric power plant. This tool was used to produce results presented in a 152-page report prepared by the Department of Energy’s ORNL for the Electric Power Research Institute and allows for quick screening and characterization of potential sites.
“OR-SAGE is a dynamic visualization database that allows us to look at the entire country through a lens,” said Olufemi Omitaomu, a researcher in ORNL’s Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. “The technology provides assistance working with real-world constraints.”
Omitaomu and colleagues Gary Mays and Randy Belles emphasized that OR-SAGE is not a substitute for a “boots on the ground” detailed inspection of a given site, but the tool provides much information regarding numerous screening factors and considerations without having to visit a site.
“OR-SAGE takes into account availability of water, identifies sufficient land areas that are suitable to meet nominal requirements for the footprint of the various types of plants and impacts on siting future plants in terms of increases in population and demand for water,” said Mays, project manager and a member of ORNL’s Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division. “Ultimately, the tool allows for the flexible use of screening criteria for candidate site comparisons and enhances the ability to assess energy needs.”
A previous project that ORNL completed for DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy focused on siting nuclear power plants and provided the basis for developing the OR-SAGE methodology. For this EPRI study, OR-SAGE also was used to examine advanced coal with carbon capture and storage, solar and compressed air energy power plants. Together, these studies are helping to identify hundreds of potential areas for power generation in the United States.
A key driver for this work is the fact that by 2035, 4,775 billion kilowatt hours of electricity generation will be needed to meet annual energy demand in the United States, according to DOE’s Energy Information Administration. This represents an annual increase in demand of 0.8 percent. Experts expect the additional electricity to be provided by a mix of power generation plants, and this report provides EPRI and other research groups with a tool to inform their analyses.
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