Extreme weather events cause impacts on industry and infrastructure. Climate change’s most severe and costly impacts on industry and infrastructure will result from the rising tide of extreme weather events such as storms, floods, and heat waves. Worsening weather will place new strains on urban infrastructure, requiring expensive new investments. Episodes of extreme temperatures, such as the recent European heat waves, will increase both the demand for energy and the cost of providing it. Increased electricity generation means an increased use of water resources, at exactly the time when other demands for water will peak. Both fossil fuel and nuclear power plants require huge quantities of cooling water, in many cases withdrawn from rivers and estuaries.
Extreme temperature and heat waves increase demand for energy and costs for cooling and refrigeration. Desire for air conditioning will spread farther north as peak summer temperatures rise. Costs to manufacture and install air-conditioning equipment will be incurred relatively quickly. Demand for electricity exhibits a sharp peak on the hottest days of the summer in areas with heavy air-conditioning use. The more extreme the peak temperatures and air-conditioning demand become, the greater will be the cost of peak electricity generation capacity, which must be maintained but sit idle all the rest of the year. Thus more extreme weather leads to a need for more power plant capacity, and to higher average costs for electricity.
Source: Climate Change – the Costs of Inaction (PDF) – Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth Stanton – Global Development and Environment Institute – Tufts University, MA, USA
Date: 11 October 2006