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 and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

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

-- 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

You May Also Like

Clean Power

New goals of up to 5,000 MW by 2030 and 25,000 MW by 2045 will accelerate California’s transition to 100% clean electricity SACRAMENTO —...

Clean Transport

Funding for California’s VW Mitigation Trust is ongoing. Find out more about the project types and how to apply. Courtesy of California Air Resources...

Clean Transport

Electric school buses are experiencing rapid growth in the United States, with a nearly 10-fold increase in commitments by school districts and fleet operators in the...

Autonomous Vehicles

Using the terms Autopilot and Full Self Driving is deceptive, the California DMV alleges in a new administrative filing.

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.