Skip to main content

Modeling the impact of extreme summer drought on conventional and renewable generation capacity: Methods and a case study on the Eastern U.S. power system

by Hang Shuai, Fangxing Li, Jinxiang Zhu, William Tingen, Srijib K Mukherjee
Publication Type
Journal Name
Applied Energy
Publication Date
Page Number

Across recent years, there has been a growing prevalence of extreme weather events throughout the United States, posing significant challenges to the reliable and resilient operation of power systems. Specifically, summer droughts threaten to severely reduce available generation capacity to meet regional electricity demand, potentially leading to power outages. This underscores the importance of accurate resource adequacy (RA) assessment to ensure the reliable operation of the nation’s energy infrastructure. Accurately evaluating the usable capacity of regional generation fleets is a challenging undertaking due to the intricate interactions between power systems and hydro-climatic systems. This paper proposes a systematic and analytical framework to evaluate the impacts of extreme summer drought events on the available capacity of various generating technologies, incorporating both meteorological and hydrologic factors. The framework provides detailed plant-level capacity derating models for hydroelectric, thermoelectric, and renewable power plants, facilitating evaluations with high temporal and spatial resolution. The application of the proposed impact assessment framework to the 2025 generation fleet of the real-world power system within the PJM and SERC regions of the United States yields insightful results. By analyzing the daily usable capacity of 6,055 at-risk generators across the study region, it shows that the summer capacity deration is most significant for hydroelectric and once-through thermal power plants, followed by recirculating thermal power plants and combustion turbines. In the event of the recurrence of the 2007 southeastern summer drought event in the near future, the generation fleet could experience a substantial reduction in available capacity, estimated at approximately 8.5 GW, compared to typical summer conditions. The sensitivity analysis reveals that the usable capacity of the generation fleet would suffer an even more significant decrease under conditions of increasingly severe summer droughts. The proposed approach and the findings of this study provide valuable methodologies and insights, empowering stakeholders to bolster the resilience of power systems against the potentially devastating effects of future extreme drought events.