Tennessee is vulnerable to droughts, floods and reduced hydroelectric potential
Tennessee’s climate has warmed in the past 20 years. Average rainfall is increasing, and a rising percentage of that rain is falling on the four wettest days of the year, increasing risks of flooding. Because of rising temperatures, droughts might be longer and more frequent, which would impact the demands for water on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.
- Increasing temperatures: The southeast will likely be hit hardest by heat impacts. The number of days at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit will increase from an average of 9 per year to 17-43 by mid-century. Higher temperatures will likely reduce the productivity of farms and ranches, change parts of the landscape, and harm human health. In addition, warmer weather will decrease productivity in high-risk sectors like construction, mining, utilities, transportation and manufacturing.
- Droughts: While annual precipitation in TN has increased approximately 5% since the first half of the 20th century, increasing temperatures make evaporation more likely and reduces the amount of rain that runs into rivers. The total amount of water running into rivers or recharging groundwater each year is likely to decrease by 2.5 to 5 percent, making droughts more likely and more severe.
- Floods: Average rainfall is increasing, and a rising percentage of that rain is falling on the four wettest days of the year, increasing risks of flooding.
- Adaptation: Tennessee has not developed a statewide climate adaptation plan.
Tennessee residents support clean energy and climate regulations
- According to the Yale Map Project on Climate Change Communication 64% of Tennessee residents recognize that global warming is happening. The Project finds that 70% of residents support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant and 78% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
Tennessee is a hydropower leader, wind manufacturer
- Ten wind manufacturing facilities are located in Tennessee producing components for the wind industry and employing 100-500 people.
- Tennessee ranks 38th in the US in terms of installed wind capacity with 29 MW, or the equivalent to power 3,500 homes. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) holds long-term power purchase agreements (PPA) with nine wind farms for the purchase of over 1,500 MW of wind from farms in the interior region of the US.
- Tennessee ranks 23rd in the US in installed solar capacity with 171 MW of installed capacity, enough to power 16,000 homes. Solar employs 3,500 people in 151 companies across the state.
- At almost 9.8 million megawatt hours in 2015, TN’s net electricity generation from hydroelectric power was the third-highest among states east of the Mississippi River, and sixth-highest in the nation.
- Tennessee does not have any renewable energy policy or portfolio standards.