Capacity shortages from global warming should be the real cause for alarm.
Suppose the experts are wrong about climate change. Suppose they’ve underestimated the impact of global warming. What would happen if temperatures were to rise much higher and much sooner than predicted? What if the worst-case scenario were to come true?
That is a question utilities must face today, even as the industry races to find solutions to reduce carbon emissions.
This predicament is not entirely fair. That’s because even a modest rise in temperatures, standing alone, would force utilities to build more capacity to meet the expected rise in cooling demand, which would only add more fuel to the fire, assuming that that the added capacity would include a fair share of fossil resources.
But the alternative could be worse. The heat wave in 2003 in Europe killed at least 35,000 people— 20,000 in Italy and 15,000 in France. Utilities—whether in Europe or America or even India or China—don’t want to be caught short of power when the mercury climbs. They’ll be held accountable if it happens.