Should students be concerned about the ongoing energy crisis?

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Summer of 2022 has proven to be a historic time, with weather anomalies and other natural occurrences breaking historic records and setting precedents unheard of before.

These anomalies have created a noticeable influx of various problems throughout the nation and world. Most notably, an energy crisis.

Various states and even countries had to ration their energy in recent months due to weather threatening to subvert the electric output of nations. The increase of events like droughts in Europe, South America and in the United States have exposed the many underlying issues plaguing our current energy system.

With so many energy systems being threatened, what does this mean for UNLV students? How will this affect our lives here in Las Vegas? Are there any possible precautions we can take?

“We are having record level heat waves that are forcing people to turn on the A/C more often, which often puts a great amount of pressure on the grid,” said Omid Najibzadeh, a junior Computer Science student at UNLV.

“The population of the west is also increasing, increasing the demand for energy. The lower water levels like in the Colorado river, energy sources like the Hoover Dam will also lower energy output,” Najibzadeh said. “California already used a large amount of energy to pump water across mountains. Thus, the two topics are intertwined…Vegas will face some energy problems, but not as severe as California.”

Najibzadeh further elaborated that although Nevada invests heavily into solar energy, it might be sufficient for now, but might not be enough to meet future demands. Furthermore, the lack of supplies make it difficult for solar power to be a primary source of electricity for millions, if the necessary infrastructure is absent.

According to Reuters, widespread droughts throughout countries like Brazil have led to a notable decrease in energy output, since the country is 89% dependent on hydroelectric power. In many cases, most forms of renewable energy are directly dependent on weather behavior, meaning the course of the weather determines how much output is produced. In Brazil’s case, the shortage of water means hydroelectric generators would become virtually obsolete and generate a less than optimal amount of electricity. 

In Las Vegas, the likelihood of seeing rolling blackouts is quite slim, but never out of the realm of possibility. Over summer 2022, NV Energy asked Nevada residents to reduce their A/C usage amid record breaking heat. The massive demand for electricity created a 51,000 megawatt overload in the CA-NV electrical grid, the highest demand ever seen. The incredible heat means that consumers will hike up A/C usage, putting an overwhelming amount of stress on the electric grid. 

What does this mean for UNLV students? Likely not much, at least for now. Lake Mead’s water level has seen its lowest water level since 1937, meaning the available water needed for productive hydroelectric energy production for us here in Las Vegas would be less than optimal. 

At the moment, however, students at UNLV wouldn’t need to worry too much about blackouts at UNLV or at home, given that Nevada has two massive power grids to create optimal amounts of electricity. Although a major crisis is currently not on the horizon, that doesn’t exactly mean energy conservation shouldn’t be kept in mind.

Students can help save energy by reducing water usage, limiting shower time, and using water sprinklers sparingly. Additionally, unplugging appliances not in use or turning off devices after use are effective methods to limit how much electricity is being allocated toward each household. 

Even though the world is constantly warming up and cooling down, the likelihood of rolling blackouts and unsatisfactory energy output will not be a reality if we all do our part in conserving as much energy as possible. 
For more information regarding how you can help aid in conserving energy here in Nevada and aid in the ongoing crisis across the nation, visit the NV Energy website: https://www.nvenergy.com/.

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