Association Webinars: The Thirst for Power: the Nexus on Climate Change, Water Scarcity, and Electricity Outage



Economic development under climate change has become a complex challenge for both developing and well-established economies, as it imposes restrictions on the resource availability. To maintain a sustainable electricity supply and mitigate the impact of climate change on economic development, it is therefore important to understand how utility firms respond to water scarcity and unpacks the underlying mechanisms of power outage. We find power plants replace hydroelectricity by coal-fired generation and nuclear power, which results in unexpected additional use of coal and an increase in carbon emissions. When taking into account the characteristics of water cooling for generators, we find drought leads to a transition in technology from hydroelectric power plants to plants that use once-through and recirculating cooling technologies. In general, water scarcity slows down the transition towards renewable energy.


Dr. Lin Zhang is an assistant professor in the School of Energy and Environment at the City University of Hong Kong, with a joint appointment in the Department of Public Policy. Before moving to Hong Kong in 2016, he was a researcher associated with Centre of Economic Research at ETH Zurich, the Energy Science Center, Simulation Lab, and the Competence Center for Research in Energy, Society, and Transition in Switzerland. With a focus on energy and sustainability economics, Zhang's research aims to develop improved quantitative modeling approaches for the design, evaluation, and upgrade of sustainable energy policies at local, regional, and global levels. Dr. Zhang holds a PhD in economics from ETH Zurich, double bachelor degrees from Peking University.


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