Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica
Figure 2. Evolution of drought conditions in California after a second dry year. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor.

Clean Power

California’s Hydroelectric Generation Affected by Historic Drought

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on U.S. Drought Monitor

Most of the western United States is experiencing intense and historic drought conditions. California is one of the most severely affected states. As of June 22, 2021, 100% of the state is experiencing some degree of drought. About 33% of the state has been categorized under exceptional drought, the most intense drought classification. The drought conditions have affected California’s water supply levels and hydropower plants.

Drought conditions include below-normal precipitation and snowpack accumulation, very dry soil, and higher-than-normal temperatures. These factors lower the water supply available in the summer months.

Mountain snowpack serves as a natural reservoir, providing water throughout the spring and summer as it melts. However, the California snowpack was well below normal this year, and most of it melted quickly because of higher spring temperatures. Measurable snow was present at only 3 of 131 monitoring stations on June 1.

Meltwater from the snowpack often didn’t reach reservoirs in California this year because it was absorbed by drought-parched soil and streams, leaving reservoirs across the state at low levels. Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in California, is at 48% of its average capacity. Lake Oroville, the second-largest reservoir in the state, is at 40% of its average capacity. Lake Oroville’s water level is expected to fall even lower, which will likely force the Edward Hyatt Power Plant to shut down for the first time since it opened in 1967.

Low water supply can affect hydroelectric generation. California’s previous drought, which lasted from 2012 to 2016, led to significant declines in hydroelectric generation and the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions in 2015. As drought conditions eased, hydropower conditions improved.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO); U.S. Drought Monitor


However, as a result of this year’s harsh drought conditions, we expect hydroelectric generation in California to be lower in 2021 than it has been in recent years. In the first four months of 2021, hydroelectric generation in California was 37% less than in the same four months in 2020 and 71% less than during those months in 2019. According to our Short-Term Energy Outlook, hydroelectric generation in California this year will be 19% less than last year, decreasing from 16.8 million megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2020 to 13.6 million MWh in 2021.

Principal contributor: Lindsay Aramayo

Graphs Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO); U.S. Drought Monitor

Courtesy of  U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)


Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

 
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

-- the EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Bicycles

In a recent post, I explained how micromobility (e-bikes, scooters, etc) gives state and local governments a much cheaper lever they can pull to...

Climate Change

Extreme heat continues to bake the American West, breaking temperature records, and exacerbating drought and other wildfire catalysts. Billings, Montana, broke a 61-year-old record...

Batteries

NREL Is Driving Innovation in Geothermal Lithium Extraction Through Research, Expertise, and Prize Incentives

Clean Transport

Analysis Aims To Help California Meet Zero-Emission Vehicle Goals

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.