With much of the United States’ petroleum refinery and chemical production capacity located around the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Harvey walloped the American oil and gas industry. Clifford Krauss and Hiroko Tabuchi report that the damage from the storm revealed the vulnerability of having so much oil and gas infrastructure centralized in one coastal region. As Michael E. Webber, who was quoted in the piece, explained, “The hurricane did what terrorists could only dream of and take a third of U.S. refinery capacity off line for days on end.” New York Times.
While Harvey damaged oil and gas infrastructure, Hurricane Irma took its toll on Florida’s electrical grid. Six million utility customers, almost 60 percent of the state, lost power and restoring that power could take weeks, explains Eric Holthaus. Grist.
Restoring power to Florida and storm-ravaged parts of Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas will require a tremendous effort, likely “one of the largest industry restoration efforts in U.S. history,” according to one expert. As Jeff St. John describes, the 50,000 workers who assembled to rebuild the grid had to wait for conditions to stabilize before they could assess the full magnitude of the damage. GreenTech Media.
Harvey and Irma have forced observers to consider how to make the grid more resilient as the warming climate increases the likelihood of extreme weather events. Research indicates that distributed energy resources, including energy efficiency, promote resilience. Silvio Marcacci makes the case for energy storage, especially when combined with other distributed resources, as a means to mitigate the impact of future storms. Forbes.