CITRIS researchers discuss California’s recent heat wave

A dry field under a large, glowing sun.

When California saw an unprecedented heat wave over Labor Day weekend, researchers from CITRIS and the Banatao Institute were on hand to explain the causes and effects of climate change and what the rising temperatures may entail for the state.

CITRIS principal investigators (PIs) Alexandra von Meier and Duncan Callaway, both of UC Berkeley, discussed California’s power grid and how it will adapt amid the state’s rising temperatures on KQED Public Radio’s Forum program.

Daniel Kammen, CITRIS PI and UC Berkeley professor, told USA Today that areas with power lines above ground could become subject to “rolling brownouts,” in which outages are scheduled in advance to prevent the spread of fires. He stressed the need to increase investment in “renewables plus storage” to Wired, noting that the state could utilize more distributed ways to store energy and gather supplies during seasons with lower energy demand.

CITRIS PI Severin Borenstein, faculty director of the Energy Institute at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, noted an increase in energy usage that has come with the state’s heat waves. “People who live in areas where we never thought air conditioning would be needed are now installing it,” he told The Washington Post.

According to UC Davis professor and CITRIS Climate Director Michele Barbato in an interview with The Sacramento Bee, excess energy use through things like air conditioning is merely a short-term solution that can actually worsen climate change.

UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy and CITRIS PI Solomon Hsiang told The New York Times that, while global trade could help address the effects of climate change, supply chains are likely to be affected as well.