United States energy grids may not be able to accommodate future electricity needs that result from the growing number and intensity of high-temperature days, a study suggests. Previous research suggests that most economic damages from climate change are likely to stem from the increased use of the electrical grid for cooling. Yet the effect of increasingly frequent and intense heat events on peak electricity demand, defined as the highest amount of energy demanded from an electrical grid, is unclear. Using regional electricity use data and daily temperatures, Maximilian Auffhammer and colleagues modeled the impact of climate change on electricity consumption in the United States. Under a moderate climate change scenario, modest and varied changes in electrical consumption could occur across the United States. The model estimates an increase in average electricity demand by 2.8% and in daily peak electricity demand by 3.5% by the end of the century. Some areas like the southern United States could experience an increased number of spikes in electricity use as hot days become more prevalent, while regions such as the northwestern United States could experience decreases in overall and peak electrical use, as cold days become less intense. According to the authors, increased peak electricity demands may require substantial investments by US electricity grids into peak electricity generating capacity, given that current grids are designed to accommodate only current peak electricity demands. - Read at PNAS.org
Article #16-13193: “Climate change is projected to have severe impacts on the frequency and intensity of peak electricity demand across the United States,” by Maximilian Auffhammer, Patrick Baylis, and Catherine Hausman.