Skip to content

Coffel explores power and climate struggle in new research paper

Jan 4, 2021

Thermal power generation is disadvantaged in a warming world

Ethan D. Coffel & Justin S. Mankin

Environmental Research Letters, January 2021

Ethan Coffel

Ethan Coffel

There’s no doubt the Earth’s temperatures are going up. According to a December report by the World Meteorological Organization, 2020 is on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, already within the warmest decade to date. During the year’s hottest months, many people rely on electricity-generated cooling systems to remain comfortable. But the power plants that keep air conditioners pushing out cold air could soon be in a vicious cycle in a warming world–not able to keep up with growing demands on hotter days and driving up greenhouse gas emissions to dangerous levels.

Ethan Coffel, assistant professor of geography and the environment in the Maxwell School, explores this power and climate struggle in the research paper, “Thermal power generation is disadvantaged in a thermal world.” The work published this month in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters. Coffel discusses the new findings and how warming temperatures will impact every part of our power infrastructure in the SU News story, "It’s Getting Hot In Here: Warming World Will Fry Power Plant Production in Coming Years." 01/04/20