Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A study suggests that growing prosperity in China coupled with expected future global warming will drive an explosion in Chinese electricity Demand.
Climate Change Could Ramp Up Electricity Use in China
By Roni Dengler | January 2, 2019 1:41 pm
As the Earth heats up thanks to climate change, people are cranking up the air conditioning. Pumping in that cooled air also increases electricity use, and especially so in countries where people are just beginning to make heavy use of the electrical grid. Case in point: China, where researchers find that climate change will significantly escalate electricity consumption.
“China is now the largest economy in the world, and their electricity sector is probably the largest single place where policy changes will affect greenhouse gas emissions,” said William Pizer, an expert in public and environmental policy at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who led the new research.
Their goal, in addition to pointing out another risk of a warming globe, is to explore the ways societies will need to adapt to climate change. Beefing up electrical grids could be one of them.
More than this, peak electrical demand would explode by more than 36 percent for every 1.8 degree F increase in global mean surface temperature by 2099, Pizer and colleagues determined. The discovery holds implications for planners anticipating future demands and argues for investments in electrical grid expansion. It’s also another reminder that our responses to climate change may sometimes make the situation worse, and it’s important information for future modeling.
“This is critical to cost-benefit analysis used to support policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Pizer said.
The abstract of the study;
Climate change and residential electricity consumption in the Yangtze River Delta, China
Yating Li, William A. Pizer, and Libo Wu
PNAS published ahead of print December 24, 2018
Estimating the impact of climate change on energy use across the globe is essential for analysis of both mitigation and adaptation policies. Yet existing empirical estimates are concentrated in Western countries, especially the United States. We use daily data on household electricity consumption to estimate how electricity consumption would change in Shanghai in the context of climate change. For colder days <7 °C, a 1 °C increase in daily temperature reduces electricity consumption by 2.8%. On warm days >25 °C, a 1 °C increase in daily temperatures leads to a 14.5% increase in electricity consumption. As income increases, households’ weather sensitivity remains the same for hotter days in the summer but increases during the winter. We use this estimated behavior in conjunction with a collection of downscaled global climate models (GCMs) to construct a relationship between future annual global mean surface temperature (GMST) changes and annual residential electricity consumption. We find that annual electricity consumption increases by 9.2% per +1 °C in annual GMST. In comparison, annual peak electricity use increases by as much as 36.1% per +1 °C in annual GMST. Although most accurate for Shanghai, our findings could be most credibly extended to the urban areas in the Yangtze River Delta, covering roughly one-fifth of China’s urban population and one-fourth of the gross domestic product.
Studies like this in my opinion hilight how useless renewables would be as a solution to the world’s future energy needs. Renewables can’t even supply existing demand, let alone the future demand we would experience if the world warms as much as climate action advocates claim it will. When you also consider the demand which would accrue from the electrification of road transport, and the growing energy needs of our society’s rising technology infrastructure, renewables are a complete non-starter.