Drought & Water Availability

'Super-droughts' are periods of exceptionally dry summer and autumn weather followed by a similarly dry winter and spring, and extending into the next summer and possibly longer. How would a 'super-drought' affect watre availability for power generation?

Proposed mitigation strategies introduced by the appropriate authorities in response to serious droughts generally assume that primary, manufacturing, transport and related industries, with their ancillary service sector counterparts, are able to continue operating and providing the key products, services and employment on which a modern society relies. They also assume that electricity supplies, whether generated by coal-fired, gas-fired, oil-fired or nuclear power stations, remain largely uninterrupted and can be relied upon to support and maintain the economic activities and social structures and with this the mitigation strategies intended to bring the populace through the period of the drought emergency.

EVO is developing a national-scale exemplar that will enable exploration of some of the implications of a prolonged or super-drought on water supplies to power stations. Will it cause power supplies to be interrupted and possibly later shut down altogether for long periods, thus affecting severely and adversely the effectiveness of any conventional drought mitigation measures? In particular, through the cloud computing functionality of the EVO, we show how the pattern of water shortage in a hypothetical super-drought evolves over time and space at the national and regional scales, with particular emphasis on where and when river flow or other water supply conditions cause power generation to be interrupted or shut down.

Here ‘super-drought’ is taken to mean a period of one exceptionally dry summer and autumn, defined here as <30% of average rainfall, followed by a similarly dry winter and spring, and extending into the next summer and possibly longer