Electricity consumption in Europe will shift under climate change

Public Release: 28-Aug-2017

From Eurekalert

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Rising temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions will fundamentally change electricity consumption patterns in Europe. A team of scientists from Germany and the United States now analyzed what unchecked future warming means for Europe’s electricity demand: daily peak loads in Southern Europe will likely increase and overall consumption will shift from Northern Europe to the South. Further, the majority of countries will see a shift of temperature-driven annual peak demand from winter to summer by the end of this century. This would put additional strain on European power grids, the study now published in the renowned US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests.

“It is fascinating to see how the response of electricity consumption to temperature changes is similar across European countries’ peak and total electricity use seem to be smallest on days with a maximum temperature of about 22°C (72°F), and increases when this daily maximum temperature either rises or falls,” lead author Leonie Wenz from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) explains. “We use this common characteristic as a basis for estimating future electricity consumption under climate change – that is beyond the current temperature range. That way, those European countries that are already experiencing very hot temperatures today serve as examples for the future of cooler countries. It turns out that electricity demand in Europe will shift from countries like Sweden or Norway to countries like Portugal or Spain. Concurrently, the annual peak load will shift from winter to summer in most countries.”

Using hourly electricity data across 35 countries

“Quantifying the connection between heat and human behavior is at the frontier of climate change research. There now is ample evidence that when it’s hot outside, air quality suffers, people are more stressed, aggressive, violent and less productive, mortality and crime rates rise. All sectors of the economy are affected by thermal stress, from the residential to the commercial, agricultural to the industrial sector. The main adaptation mechanism available to humans to combat high outdoor temperatures is a cooled indoor built environment, which in most settings requires the consumption of significant amounts of electricity. This increased demand for air conditioning will put pressure on electricity grids when it is hot outside and generation and transmission infrastructure are already strained,” co-author Max Auffhammer from the University of California, Berkeley, adds.

The study is the first to use observed hourly electricity data across 35 European countries – which are connected by the world’s largest synchronous electrical grid – to estimate how climate change impacts the intensity of peak-load events and overall electricity consumption. While previous work on the relationship between temperature and electricity consumption primarily focused on the US or single European countries and the overall consumption impacts, recent research suggests that the effects of changes in peak load may be much larger and costlier, putting the focus on times when the power grid is already stressed.

A fundamental challenge for transmission infrastructure and peak-generating capacity

“A few decades ago, no ordinary car in Europe had air conditioning, today almost every automobile has it – the same development will probably happen with buildings in Europe, yet not for reasons of comfort but due to necessity. People will need to cool down their environments to keep up their life and economic productivity,” co-author Anders Levermann from PIK and Columbia University in New York concludes.

While the study indicates that the projected effect of climate change on European electricity consumption as a whole is nearly zero, the shift in spatial as well as seasonal electricity consumption will be a fundamental challenge for Europe, he argues: “This will have important ramifications for the transmission infrastructure, peak-generating capacity and storage requirements – to adapt to the warming that is already unavoidable due to past greenhouse gas emissions. The easiest way to limit the impacts of climate change remains to keep the Paris climate guardrail, that is to limit the temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius.”

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Article: Wenz, L., Levermann, A., Auffhammer, M. (2017): North-South polarization of European electricity consumption under future warming. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) [DOI:10.1073/pnas.1704339114]

Weblink to the article once it is published: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1704339114

For further information please contact:
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
E-Mail: press@pik-potsdam.de
Twitter: @PIK_Climate
http://www.pik-potsdam.de

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58 thoughts on “Electricity consumption in Europe will shift under climate change

  1. PIK lives in fantasy land. PNAS publishes another of their fairy tales. One way to know that is true is their faith in renewables, if fully acted on, means there wont be any reliable electricity to be had by the end of the century so no usage pattern to shift.

    • Is the future of nuclear power molten SALT? ‘Safer’ thorium reactor trials carried out for the first time for 40 years

      Dutch firm NRG has revealed plan to test reactors that use molten salt as fuel
      Researchers in the Netherlands have begun nuclear fission tests using thorium salts – a method said to be far cleaner and safer than uranium-based systems.

      Dutch firm NRG has revealed a plan to test small scale reactors that use molten salt as fission fuel, marking the first time scientists have embarked on such experiments since the 1970s.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4830860/Is-future-nuclear-power-SALT.html#ixzz4rB2SmtGx

      • Wrote up all the possibilities in essay Going Nuclear. Molten salt (whether the U-P cycle or the T-U cycle) is one of several general classes of possibilities. I highly recommend the TransAtomic Power white paper (available via their website) for a deeper understanding of that technology class. The fuel isn’t the molten salt; it is dissolved into the salt which acts as heat exchanger and moderator. Other serious candidates include SMR (General Atomics), TWR ( Gates backed TerraPower), and maybe high beta fusion (Lockheed Skunkworks). Neither NIF nor ITER fusion make any sense.

      • Never mind the nuclear bollox chaps.

        This is the most idiotic statement in the whole thing:

        “A few decades ago, no ordinary car in Europe had air conditioning, today almost every automobile has it – the same development will probably happen with buildings in Europe, yet not for reasons of comfort but due to necessity”

        A few decades ago cars were just about happy cruising at 70 MPH in the UK. So wind noise and buffeting were acceptable up to that speed. They also had the aerodynamics of a common brick built house, so low pressure areas were abundant around the open side windows, not so now.

        I now cruise at 95 MPH in a streamlined car that causes me pain in my ears if a window is opened. I could cruise at 120 MPH if I wanted to, but that’s an instant driving ban. No car in the 70’s or 80’s was capable of that reliably. My car of choice is, of course, a nice quiet diesel.

        There was a ton less glass in older cars, My Citroen C4 Grand Picasso had a windscreen like the London Shard, it was truly massive. As with most cars now, side window apertures are considerably lower, and glass area considerably larger than they ever were in the past. Air conditioning isn’t a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity nowadays, irrespective of 0.0000001 degrees global warming, or whatever it is.

        Noise levels within the car are now a safety feature. Whilst we happily bimbled along in the 70’s with the windows down, the rush of wind in our hair, and the 8 track turned up full listening to Hotel California, we could hear fuck all going on around us. We couldn’t hold a conversation without shouting and a mobile phone would have been ripped from our petrified fingers in the wind blast, had they been invented!

        Other than the Rap Crap brigade, our car environments are serene. We can bollock the kids easily, we can converse on our bluetooth connected mobile phones and we can save ourselves from the screaming Tinnitus I now have by turning the 8 track……sorry…..USB connected device down, just a tad.

        Why is this such a difficult concept for a scientist to grasp when a layman like me see what’s staring me in the face?

        Or am I just getting older and more experienced?

  2. Climate change ‘policy’ – renewable energy targets etc – and the ability to have power on demand and to be able to afford it, will and are having FAR more implications for electricity use than any temperature change ever will. North, South, East or West.

    More fund-driven drivel out of the alarmist PIK.

  3. “Rising temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions will fundamentally change electricity consumption patterns in Europe. A team of scientists from Germany and the United States now analyzed what unchecked future warming means for Europe’s electricity demand”

    There are two assumptions here. rising temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions and unchecked future warming. Since neither assumption is likely, nothing to sweat about (yes pun intended).

  4. The “funny thing” is that were (by my Oak Wand) there to be a revolution in fusion energy, it would be rolled out at maximum haste. Wind? Bah! Humbug! Fusion: limitless power (truly), and relatively innocuous byproduct waste stream.

    But termites punched holes in my oaken wand.

    I guess the next-best idea is solar, in a way. Using the sun’s fusion reactor to make useful juice. And tomatoes, lettuce and cows’ milk for cheese. Not surprisingly, the economic use of solar power rises after the Sun pops up in the morning; this is not optimal for charging electric cars that are on the road. But not bad for ones parked at one’s place of employment.

    The problem is, that a “commuter’s day’s worth” of automotive energy is maybe 50 to 100 km in range. Given that electric cars rarely get better than 5.8 km/kWh, that’d take 8 to 16 kWh/day per car. Last I heard, most solar panels only put out about 1 kWh/day in the 1.6 meter long form factor. So, 8 to 16 panels per car needed on the rooftop of the parking structure. 12 to 24 m² of rooftop, each car.

    That’s a lot of rooftop. Good thing not ALL of the vehicles are electric!

    GoatGuy

    • Fusion power would be suppressed instantly.

      A lot of people would lose their shirts otherwise.

      Government by the people and of the people ceased many years ago – if it ever existed at all.

      Today its just a strapline to sell you something rather different.

  5. My opinion is we are moving into a period of colder times, especially winters for the next decade. Almost all of Europe is in the higher latitudes and it can get brutally cold there. If the North Atlantic flips and goes cold, they are basically screwed.

    I suggest the smarter people there have a Plan B. Build an underground shelter, drill your own gas well, stockpile wood chips .. do something!

    But then again, you get what you deserve.

  6. Too late! The UK ‘Jewel in the Crown’ foretold the following back in 2008!

    Impacts on the UK energy industry

    What have we done?

    Using our climate models to assess future temperature increases, we looked at how this could effect all aspects of the energy industry. This included factoring in issues such as the affect of heat on the efficiency of thermal power stations. We also studied the potential changes in demand as our seasons are altered under climate change – such as an expected shift in peak power demand to the summer as people rely more on air conditioning….

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/services/climate-services/uk/ukcp/impacts/energy

    Anybody in the UK actually believe this? Anybody in the UK Met Office actually believe this?

    • Not after this summer.
      A pleasant couple of days over the Bank Holiday Weekend [Why no Shipyard Holiday – or Farm holiday?? I guess ‘Merchant bankers’ is Cockney rhyming slang.]; several decent days in June and July – but otherwise a fairly poor summer, at least in South London.
      The weather has seemed [from cursory glances at UK forecasts] to have been cooler and wetter to the North and West. Not a great season.
      Not that anyone believes whatever southerly -projected ejecta of a northbound male bovid [with its dangly bits intact] that the Met Office produces if it is about more than two – three, at most – days ahead.
      And even then you would check copious times in between – as the forecast changes.
      This is England – FFS – and the weather changes, so the forecast, reasonably, changes likewise.
      Just don’t expect accurate forecasts five days out [better than tossing a coin].
      And this utter drivel about it being 0.73 degrees warmer in seventy years [or whatever the astrologically determined numbers may be to get better grants, on ludicrously hyped levels of accuracy] are not fit to be flushed down a khazi.
      Realistically, if – with their magic supercomputer – they can’t reliably predict Friday’s weather on Tuesday afternoon, what possible credence could they have for a Bar-B-Q Summer?
      Let alone the climate/weather in my grand-child’s dotage?
      I have tried to eschew the worst obscenities, but – goodness – it has been hard.
      Auto
      Mods – no /Sarc whatever here.
      I almost wish there was.
      It is dispiriting.
      Weather is complex – too complex – but the Met Office still trots out trillion year forecasts. . . . [Mods – that really is exaggeration!].

  7. Warmist “scientists” sure love to slap up their nice-looking structures built upon a foundation of sand.

  8. Disingenuous comment about more cars now having air conditioners.
    “A few decades ago, no ordinary car in Europe had air conditioning, today almost every automobile has it – the same development will probably happen with buildings in Europe, yet not for reasons of comfort but due to necessity. People will need to cool down their environments to keep up their life and economic productivity.

    The air conditioning also heats the car interior up when needed.
    Why do they imply that air conditioning is only cooling?
    The manufacturer will pretty well always put in A/C as bog standard these days if he wishes to remain competitive.

    • I think the point is not that we now need airconditioning more, but that we can afford it and so it has become standard.

  9. Unmentioned is the probable outcome and unintended consequence of part of the climate change “solution”. In order to reduce emissions to the 80% or so, the goal so loved by the faithful, using fossil fuels for home heating has to be replaced by electric heating. As a result the winter peak loads will have to increase and where I live in New York it will have to increase a lot. I would not be surprised that would have a larger effect than any temperature shift.

  10. What’s so funny about these serious sounding papers is the fact that they are assuming some pretty unlikely , and in some cases, totally nonsensical nonsensical future conditions. For example, the biggest change in electrical usage will occur because practically the entire ground transportation system, cars and trucks, will be electric. Maybe these researchers have been living on Mars, or something. The other obvious revolutionary change will be the certain domination of power generation by molten salt reactors. I have 100% confidence in these events. I have very little confidence in the assumptions being made by these out-of-it “researchers.”

    • What’s so funny about these serious sounding papers is the fact that they are assuming some pretty unlikely , and in some cases, totally nonsensical nonsensical future conditions

      But that is the way the IPCC and its friends were set up to work.

      To examine (without questioning its validity) the economic social and political impacts of global unicorn infestation Mann Made Climate Change.

      How hard do you beat your wife?

  11. “… those European countries that are already experiencing very hot temperatures today serve as examples for the future of cooler countries”

    They’re citing temperature variances of “cooler” to “very hot”, those are subjective terms. And this variance is not reflective of the claimed 1.5C degree warming over a century. Perhaps a better wording would be that tepid countries may become slightly more tepid.

  12. “Rising temperatures due to greenhouse gas emissions will fundamentally change electricity consumption patterns in Europe. A team of scientists from Germany and the United States now analyzed what unchecked future warming means for Europe’s electricity demand: daily peak loads in Southern Europe will likely increase and overall consumption will shift from Northern Europe to the South. Further, the majority of countries will see a shift of temperature-driven annual peak demand from winter to summer by the end of this century.”

    Interesting hypothesis – I can’t see how it can possibly be tested so as to even qualify as science.

    “‘It is fascinating to see how the response of electricity consumption to temperature changes is similar across European countries’ peak and total electricity use seem to be smallest on days with a maximum temperature of about 22°C (72°F), and increases when this daily maximum temperature either rises or falls,’ lead author Leonie Wenz from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) explains.”

    They saw no such thing. They hypothesized it.

  13. After years of dealing with the sometimes- high temps and high humidity of summer by using fans at night to draw in cooler nighttime air, and closing up in the day, and using fans (overhead and otherwise) to help feel cooler, a couple years ago we put in a portable air conditioner (10k btu). Nothing to do with summers getting hotter, which we hadn’t noticed anyway (if anything, heat waves seemed to be fewer, and less severe). Rather, it was that we were tired of the routine, which sometimes didn’t really help much anyway if there wasn’t much of a temperature drop at night, and tired of being uncomfortable. I figured our electric bills would be noticeably higher, but in fact, it hasn’t made a big difference – perhaps $10 or $15 a month at most, primarily in July and August. A big reason is that we don’t use the fans anymore. We open up at night if there will be a nice temperature drop and the outside air is noticeably cooler by bedtime. Otherwise, the AC stays on. That’s the funny thing about technology though. If it’s there, we tend to use it. Take cell phones. Please.

    • A thermostat-controlled attic fan can eliminate the need for air conditioning in climates with moderate summers like the coastal Pacific Northwest. I assume it could cut down on air conditioning’s workload too, saving $.

  14. So they did “research” that finds people use heat below 72 F and cooling above it? Golly. What any HVAC installer can already tell you…. now I wonder if those “researchers” can install a 5 ton home HVAC unit or recharge the R-134a in their car… /sarc;

    (“Sarc” because I know they can’t. Doing A/C service requires actual skill.)

  15. Has anyone here ever been to Rome? yeeeah! I’m pretty sure all that heat has very little to do with CO2 and more with the fact that its all stone and concrete, not to mention that there is simply no place to hide. My God the amount of traffic and people….and those downslope winds wont help either.

    amazing thing when you think about it……. its 2017 and right now the human race just looks and sounds dumber than ever. This is the topic of conversation??? how pathetic! The problem here is that too many of you listen to…too many of you. Now fry!!!!

  16. “now analyzed what unchecked future warming means”

    Unchecked anything typically means a problem after a while. For example, unchecked speculation about unchecked climate change is probably a symptom of some sort of spectrum disorder.

    If there were meople on Twitter just tweeting “wolf, wolf, wolf…” how long before their family and friends ( actual friends, not the Farcvebook type) would seek to have them sectioned?

  17. It is amazing how these people in Potsdam can imagine that the temperatures are increasing at a time when temperatures are decreasing and heat waves becoming rarer, They are beginning to actually believe the adjustments that they make to the temperature record to fool the public, are valid.

  18. yet not for reasons of comfort but due to necessity

    This seem and advertisement slogan! I always wonder why Americans love to feel cold on summer and warm on winter! (Thermostat set to 18°C on summer and 24°C on winter)
    I live close to Venezia (Italy) and I’ve no AC in my house but in car. During summer I use AC very few times, when there are other people in my car if they like it. I love drive with open window and feel air blow in my left arm and back on my hair.
    Over that on summer I play soccer in the afternoon WITHOUT AC! So who say that we use AC not for comfort?

  19. Since a MUCH larger fraction of our energy budget goes into heating rather than cooling, any hypothetical warming should result in slightly REDUCED energy consumption.

  20. What these guys figuered out at great expense was that if it’s warmer people want more air conditioning and less heating.

  21. They take the output of one unproven and highly suspect model, and use it as the input to a different new and unproven model. Then declare the output to be science.

    • “It is fascinating to see how the response of electricity consumption to temperature changes is similar across European countries’ peak and total electricity use seem to be smallest on days with a maximum temperature of about 22°C (72°F), and increases when this daily maximum temperature either rises or falls,” lead author Leonie Wenz …

      The author is “fascinated” to see that people respond similarly to 72 degree maximum temperatures, no matter the (European) country that they live in.

      Leonie Wenz may also be intrigued to know that people, no matter the country, respond similarly when they are outside and it starts raining … if we study it we may find a fascinating similar correlation between between rain and umbrella use throughout northern countries. This correlation could be extrapolated toward umbrella use and the “what if it rains more/less?”. If Mann became involved, it could also be extrapolated towards rain events and the “what if people carry umbrellas more often”.

  22. “If it gets hotter, people will use air conditioning more and heating less”.

    They actually get paid for writing that?

    It’s not exactly the wisdom of the ages, is it?

  23. They are freezing to death today because of ridiculously costly, unreliable renewables. Warmer weather for the elderly poor will be a Godsend. They won’t have to burn anymore 1920s sets encyclopedias.

    Here they are with the grid certainly going to fail without timely nuke or fossil energy construction, they’ve been burning food to save the planet, they’ve planted the entire East Indies and Africa with oil palms for making diesel which now they are discontinuing because the gases are killing people. The people have been given a deadline to scrap their diesels that they bought to save the planet and the East Indies and Africa are stuck with billions of oil palms nobody needs.

    Orangutangs, forest people, Pygmies in Cameroon were dragged out of their forest while they replanted and are all homeless. The only recourse for them is to slash and burn these useless plants, smoke up the southern hemisphere or develop a taste for margarine, lots of it.

    Now the guys who brought about this idiocy are writing papers worrying about what global warming is doing to electricity consumption. Gadzooks, in an earlier generation if this was happening all around them, they would have left all the lights on at PIK, sneaked out the back door, scuttled off, changed their names and gone into hiding worrying about being boiled in palm oil. Now I understand what these jokers mean by business as usual.

  24. Red94ViperRT10:
    >As far as CO2/global warming, no link has been proven to either and increasing number or strength of
    >storms.

    In fact, the “settled science” of global warming predicts that there will be less severe weather as the planet warms.

    The argument is this:
    – As the planet worms, the poles warm more (polar amplification).
    – This reduces the temperature difference between the poles and the equator

    The entirety of mid-latitude weather is a heat engine that runs on the equator-polar difference. Reduce that difference and you reduce the energy in the weather, which reduces not only severe weather of all types, but even reduces the amount of wind for windmills.

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