How climate change will alter European electricity consumption
A team of German and American scientists have carried out a study* of how electricity consumption in Europe will fluctuate in the event of unmitigated climate change. According to their analysis, overall consumption will remain relatively constant, but its distribution will change: electricity consumption will increase sharply in southern Europe, while falling somewhat in northern Europe. The study also predicts that, by the end of the century, the temperature-driven annual peak demand of most countries will have shifted from winter to summer – a change that could put significant strain on European power grids.
The scientists were able to estimate future electricity consumption in Europe by observing how usage is currently affected by fluctuations in temperature. Overall, European countries follow similar trends when it comes to electricity consumption: they consume the least on days with a maximum temperature of around 22 °C. When the daily maximum temperature falls below or rises above this figure, electricity consumption increases. This general rule can be used to estimate how electricity consumption will alter under climate change. The current situation of countries in southern Europe, who already experience high temperatures, serves as an example for the future of countries in northern Europe. Electricity consumption is expected to fall in these countries. The countries of southern Europe, however, will see an increase in electricity demand under climate change; populations will increasingly depend on air conditioning to remain comfortable and productive as temperatures rise. Infrastructure will have to adapt to these changes accordingly.
*WENZ L. et al. North–south polarization of European electricity consumption under future warming”. PNAS [online]. 2017, vol.114, issue 38. Available on: <http://www.pnas.org/content/114/38/E7910>
See also http://bit.ly/NL72-PhysOrg