* Report calls for more innovation, infrastructure upgrades
* DOE official says report a "wake up call"
* Strong storms, droughts could hit Gulf coast, shale boom
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, July 11 Rising temperatures and sea
levels will profoundly impact the U.S. energy sector in coming
years, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a report released
on Thursday that outlined the need to mitigate the effects of
climate change on power and fuel supplies.
The report warns of the risks of storms and coastal flooding
to important oil and gas installations, the degrading effects of
heat on the nation's electrical distribution system and how
water scarcity could crimp new drilling technologies.
It also offers a glimpse into what role the Energy
Department will play in the Obama administration's renewed
climate change agenda that has focused mostly on actions it can
take independently of the politically-divided Congress.
The report calls for more research into innovative
technologies and cooperation between federal and local
governments in making energy infrastructure more weather
Jonathan Pershing, deputy assistant energy secretary for
climate change, acknowledged that major infrastructure upgrades
would have to be funded by the private sector, but said the
department could offer guidance and information to help states
and companies make the most effective investments.
The Energy Department has not set a timeline for
implementing the recommendations, but Pershing said the 83-page
report should help focus federal efforts.
"This report is in some ways ... a wake up call internally,
it identifies a really big problem," Pershing told Reuters. "We
begin to make it specific and we can follow up from there."
The report described the difficulties energy producers could
face as rapidly aging energy distribution systems collide with
changing environmental conditions.
Increasing temperatures could overheat power lines, it
warned, decreasing their transmission capacity and causing
significant power outages during heat waves.
Superstorm Sandy last year exposed the East Coast's
vulnerability to intense storms, when massive power outages
crippled petroleum pipelines and left consumers unable to fill
their vehicles at darkened gas stations.
Increasingly strong and frequent storms due to climate
change will also put the U.S. Gulf Coast, which produces about
half of U.S. crude oil and natural gas, at risk for major
infrastructure damage and supply disruptions, the report said.
The nation's shale oil and natural gas boom, driven by
water-intensive hydraulic fracturing, could have to contend with
droughts and competition for water use from other sources such
Technologies that reduce the need for water use in oil and
gas production and that increase the resilience of offshore oil
and gas equipment and distribution systems could help to lessen
these impacts, said the report.
(The report can be found at: link.reuters.com/ruv59t)
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)