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Hydropower decline adds strain to power grids in drought

The projected declines in hydropower are concentrated in the West, with California's production expected to fall by nearly half.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021 file photo, pedestrians walk across Oroville Dam at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area as drought conditions continue in Butte County, Calif. Severe drought across the West drained reservoirs this year, slashing hydropower production and further stressing the region’s power grids. And as extreme weather becomes more common with climate change, grid operators are adapting to swings in hydropower generation. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope)

CALIFORNIA, USA — U.S. hydropower generation is forecast to drop 14% this year compared with 2020 as drought grips vast areas of the West. 

Experts say the reductions complicate grid operations since hydropower is a relatively flexible renewable energy source that can be easily turned up or down, such as in the evenings when the sun goes down and solar energy generation drops. 

The projected declines in hydropower are concentrated in the West, with California's production expected to fall by nearly half.

Declines in hydropower production mean bumps for other energy sources, such as natural gas.

Read the full story HERE.

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