Oh Noes: Global Warming and Prosperity Driving up Chinese Electricity Demand

China’s burgeoning coal power industry

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.

Read More: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2019/01/02/climate-change-is-ramping-up-chinas-electricity-consumption/

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.

Read more: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/12/18/1804667115

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.

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January 3, 2019 6:37 am

Growth projections are too bullish.
Financial history is recording a global contraction, which could become severe.
Ambitious politicians have corrupted central banking to provide unlimited funding for the experiment in authoritarian government. In the past these had ended when “they” have screwed the economy and spent all the money. The early 1600s saw the start of a great reformation.
More of the public will see that the concept that a committee of economist can “manage” a national economy is not working.
The next stage will be the realization that spending trillions of taxpayer money to prevent “bad things” from happening was a fraud.
The boast that a centralized committee can “manage” the temperature of the nearest planet will be widely seen as unaffordable nonsense.
The popular uprising will become even more popular.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
January 3, 2019 8:14 am

With AAPL reducing quarterly estimates for iPhone sales in China today, I think it’s safe to say the long predict contraction in the Chinese economy is quickly nearing.

But don’t let that make you think they will not continue to see an increased energy demand.

Reply to  Neo
January 3, 2019 1:48 pm

IPhones are made, where?


China now has the technology and the manufacturing. Beware any “predictions” for China’s IPhone or similar phone usage declining.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Bob Hoye
January 3, 2019 9:27 am

When did China’s economy grow to Number #1. More fake news??

Patrick B
January 3, 2019 6:38 am

“China is now the largest economy in the world,”

Not quite true unless you are simply saying it’s the largest because it has the most people involved. In terms of value of economic output, China has a little ways to go to catch up with the US.

Of course, it is Duke, and you believe Duke at your peril – you’ll recall its expertise in determining the guilt of its own students when fraudulently charged with rape.

Reply to  Patrick B
January 3, 2019 7:04 am

Also named after the guy who invented cigarettes.

Reply to  Patrick B
January 3, 2019 7:07 am

It depends how you choose to measure the economy but if you adjust GDP for purchasing power parity China comes out number 1 even though on raw GDP USA is number 1

You will note the CIA puts all the EU countries together and uses a slightly different formula and it’s almost a dead heat for China, EU and USA.

Since we are talking about local prosperity the PPP adjusted value is arguably a better measure to use.

If we are talking about global economics you would be better with raw GDP and USA would be number 1.

Tom Gelsthorpe
January 3, 2019 6:46 am

Shanghai is the same latitude as New Orleans, with similar, sweltering summer weather. The three biggest cities up the Yangtze Valley have been called “the three furnaces” approximately forever. They’re larger and hotter than Houston, Memphis and St. Louis. The most industrialized region of China is south of Shanghai, with around 80 million surrounding the Pearl River delta, about the population of the American South where air-conditioning is considered a necessity. SE China is even steamier. They’re putting in A.C. at a ferocious pace.

India has about a billion people — three times the entire U.S. — living in regions hotter than the American South. They’re putting in A.C., too.

Americans who think we can “stop climate change” by persecuting domestic fossil fuel industries are under a misapprehension that we’re the big kid on the block. We’re not. It’s even weirder to persecute the domestic nuclear power industry, and oppose hydroelectric dams, if enviros believe CO2 is all-important. After 50 years of being sentimental favorites, wind and solar are drops in the bucket and can’t generate baseline electricity.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
January 3, 2019 10:19 am

For more than you ever wanted to know about the blooming nuke power projects in China, go here:
Many, many different and ambitious projects.

Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
January 3, 2019 1:25 pm

On the other hand northern China has ferociously cold winters. Harbin is almost as cold in winter as Fairbanks, Beijing is about as cold as Chicago and even Shanghai is about as cold as Washington DC, so a warmer climate will save a lot of power for heating (which is still often done by burning coal with predictable effects on air pollution).

kent beuchert
January 3, 2019 6:56 am

When will these morons learn that Molten salt nuclear reactors are the future of power? China and India are both working to develop and commercialize these reactors, as are a half dozen private Western companies.

Reply to  kent beuchert
January 3, 2019 7:12 am

When someone builds one that is commercial. It has been around 70 years how long do we wait?

At the moment claims it is the future sound about as plausible as the e-cat (or is it a different name now).

William Astley
Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 7:30 am

There is a company that has Canadian regulatory phase 2 approval to construct a molten salt fission reactor that has no fuel rods and no water in the reactor.

The no fuel rod, convection cooled, no water reactor is six times more fuel efficient, 1/3th the size, 1/9th the cost as compared to the pressurized water, fuel rod reactors.

The majority of the six times improvement in fuel efficiency and the reduction in cost is due to the inherent engineering limitations of fuel rods and the elimination of the natural dangerous of pressurized water, fuel rod reactors.

The no fuel rod, no water fission engine is 1/9th the cost of a pressurized water reactor as a ‘containment’ building, explosion to close valves, super redundant controls, 10-inch-thick reactor vessel, pressurizer, accumulator, pressure relief, and so on, is not required.

The no fuel rod, no water, convection cooled, fission engine has no natural failure modes. The fission engine produces six times less nuclear waste and the waste contains 1/9 the amount of transuranics than a pressure/boiling water reactor produces.


Terrestrial Energy unveils SMR licensing plans

Terrestrial included the status of the design, analyses, testing, licensing, and project planning for its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), which is a liquid-fuelled, high-temperature, 400 MWt advanced reactor power plant design.

Terrestrial is examining four sites for its first commercial plant, which include the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and additional sites east of the Mississippi River.

Last year, New York-headquartered Terrestrial Energy USA’s parent, Canada’s Terrestrial Energy Inc, announced its plans to engage with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission in a pre-licensing design review, a first step towards an eventual licence application.

Reply to  William Astley
January 3, 2019 7:39 am

Unfortunately this technology will never see the light of day if the current government lead by anti nuclear activists is left in charge.

Reply to  Greg
January 3, 2019 8:26 am


Not lead?

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  William Astley
January 3, 2019 9:13 am

From the link:

It will be at least the later part of the next decade before any Terrestrial reactor will be up and running. But industry observers say the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s nod represents an important step toward building a next generation of safer nuclear plants that could be cheaper to build and operate, and would meet a broader range of market needs.

“could be cheaper …”. I’ll get excited when one is actually operating and is known to be cheaper.

michael hart
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 3, 2019 5:10 pm

And in any case, China will steal the technology and build them first if they really do look like a viable proposition.
I’m completely pro-nuclear, but I just don’t see it happening first in the Western economies. It is the enduring triumph of the environmentalists that they have probably set us back about half a century in the only technology that is likely to serve humanity’s energy needs in the long term. We may have to wait much longer than I can live before we see their deeds washed away by the tide of time and genuine human progress.

John Endicott
Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 7:52 am

LdB, kent has been told that before, that is if he’s ever bothered to read the replies his posts generate, which I highly doubt he does as you won’t ever see a response from him. He just pops in, posts about MSR and then moves on to the next thread, rinse and repeat. In short he’s a spammer troll, nothing more.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  John Endicott
January 3, 2019 10:21 am

He has been told, by me and others.
Last time I asked for a dozen, up and running.
Then show ability to finance and construct 100 each year
in the USA alone, for 10 years = 1,012.
After all of those, the future will be seen.
Not by me — I’ll have checked out by then.

Reply to  kent beuchert
January 3, 2019 7:58 am

yes. And I read a statement from the head of the Chinese programme he expects the first commercial prototype in china to be operating in the early 2030s.

Still a good while to go!

Reply to  griff
January 3, 2019 1:28 pm

Even so it will be running long before the hydrogen steel plants you enthused about yesterday, Griff.

January 3, 2019 6:56 am

Grid modernization will fit nicely into the Green New Deal. The US economy is sinking ever deeper into crises following the financial collapse of 2017 resulting in record high unemployment, wide-spread hunger, and waves of internal migration in search of scarce fruit picking jobs. Tom Joad played by Kevin Spacey will narrate the Green Works Administration YouTube videos explaining all of this.

Wind and Solar will roll on as long as public money ensures a profit. There will be lines constructed to carry electricity from places where the wind is blowing to places where it isn’t blowing. Like empty buildings, trains, and highways in China the goal is spending to create the illusion of economic activity./ China will soon show the limits of this approach.

Reply to  troe
January 3, 2019 7:16 am

You might want to do a fact check on US employment rate. At the moment I doubt everything you just said because you have a problem with a basic fact.

Lets give you a start why I am having trouble

Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 7:38 am

uh… so that was sarcasm. The New Deal was in response to an economic crises. The Green New Deal isn’t

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  troe
January 3, 2019 10:46 am

Yes, I recognized the sarcasm.

” Tom Joad ” = far Eastern OKLA
I’m 2/3 rds of the way through Timothy Egan’s “The Worst Hard Time” about the Dust Bowl years in far Western OKLA. Maybe will re-read the Grapes of Wrath when I’m done with this more historical non-fiction book.

FDR became President in March 1933, in the middle of the Dust Bowl years. The New Deal began almost immediately — a little too late for many.

Steve O
January 3, 2019 7:00 am

And just what do policy makers and their researcher minions think poor developing nations in hot climates are going to spend their climate reparation money on, if not electricity for air conditioning?

Bryan A
January 3, 2019 7:00 am

Hydro and Nuclear (Nucular) are the only way to reliably replace fossil generation (if and when it needs to be replaced)

wake up greens

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Bryan A
January 3, 2019 10:54 am

Many places do not have the ‘hydro’ option, and even if they do — it will be a tough sell.
Some folks want to get rid of the dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers.
The electricity could be replaced with Nukes.
The other dam issues are debated endlessly,
even while improvements to fish passage go forward.
Potential effects on downstream flooding are not discussed.
Shipping is discussed.

Dave O.
January 3, 2019 7:08 am

As long as nuclear power is “off the table” and fossil fuels are the enemy of society, the greens will have to convince a majority of the world’s population that prosperity is a bad thing and that stone age living standards are the way to go. This could be a hard sell.

Reply to  Dave O.
January 3, 2019 8:07 am

They always have “perpetual motion machines” and the “power of flywheels” to fall back on.

January 3, 2019 7:09 am

past the point of ludicrous speed….global warming causes everything

January 3, 2019 7:24 am

Global warming causes global warming. It’s a thriving business. I want in!

January 3, 2019 7:31 am

“On warm days >25 °C, a 1 °C increase in daily temperatures leads to a 14.5% increase in electrical consumption”

That’s really interesting research, but it seems too high. But how is it that with billions spent by our federal government on “climate research” that there isn’t similar, and well known, research having been done in the US.

John Endicott
Reply to  mikec
January 3, 2019 8:00 am

“On warm days >25 °C, a 1 °C increase in daily temperatures leads to a 14.5% increase in electrical consumption”

no duh. The researchers just discovered Air conditioners.

I help them out by mentioning that on cool days <10 °C, a 1 °C decrease in daily temperatures also leads to an increase in electrical/fuel consumption.

Now they know about heaters as well.

John Endicott
Reply to  John Endicott
January 3, 2019 8:06 am

Note that for cooler days I specifically mention fuel rather than just electricity because while AC is run almost exclusively on electricity, heaters run on a variety of fuels with electric heaters being but a small part of the total.

Reply to  mikec
January 3, 2019 8:26 am

I’d love to see the numbers behind the claim that a 1C increase in temperature can result in a peak use increase of 36% in electricity demand.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  MarkW
January 3, 2019 8:49 am

More to the point, it has been firmly established that the temperature increases are mostly at night, mostly in the winter. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t use my air conditioner at night in the winter time.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
January 3, 2019 11:04 am

” air conditioner at night ”
Ours is an electric heat-pump. In winter it runs as needed.
It is “air sourced”, meaning in the coldest days of winter it uses
electric resistance heating. Costly, that.
A ground-sourced one might be a better choice.
If building new, I would investigate.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
January 3, 2019 1:33 pm

It works well, I have one, but you need a good groundwater supply or you might end up with permafrost in your garden.

Steve O
Reply to  MarkW
January 3, 2019 1:44 pm

It’s just peak electrical demand, not total electrical demand. I take that to mean that the peak demand reaches a higher point. Total consumption would increase by a much smaller amount.

The implication that greenies miss is that this makes unreliable power such as from windmills and solar panels even less reasonable as energy source options.

Thomas Englert
Reply to  MarkW
January 3, 2019 6:57 pm

How much will electricity demand explode if no warming?

Reply to  mikec
January 3, 2019 9:55 am

A projection of electricity use in 2099 is total hogwash. My local utility is required to submit a plan to the public service commission every year detailing the future load and sources of power for the service territory. A few years ago, one day after it was submitted, it was all wrong due to a court decision on environmental law. One day. 2099? Don’t believe it.

R Shearer
January 3, 2019 7:37 am

Now we’re getting somewhere. Do the same analysis for a cooling climate and it should be possible to determine the optimum temperature.

Joel Snider
January 3, 2019 7:50 am

Gotta step on that prosperity – hard to keep the commoners down otherwise.

January 3, 2019 8:05 am

I just love these stories with titles that start with Climate Change Could ….

Climate Change Could Cause Acne
Climate Change Could Make US All Rich
Climate Change Could Cause The Return of Unicorns

January 3, 2019 8:10 am

Exactly how much extra AC is going to be required to compensate for a few tenths of a degree of extra warming?

Reply to  MarkW
January 3, 2019 8:20 am

Especially considering the fact that most of the warming occurs at night and at the poles.

January 3, 2019 8:11 am

The theme of this post is mistaken. Demand for power in China increases as urbanization increases. They are building lots of power plants, lots of factories, and lots of tractors/cars/trucks/buses/trains.

Air conditioning demand increases as people move into the cities, because they did not HAVE AIR CONDITIONING before! Each 1.8 degree F increase my backside…

January 3, 2019 8:11 am

It is plain silly to worry about a few percentage points increase due to aircon while ignoring the much, much larger increase required to support electric vehicles.

Houses use relatively little electricity because they don’t move around. The motor in an aircon is puny as compared to the motor in an electric vehicle.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Ferdberple
January 3, 2019 10:44 am

Personally owned vehicles typically run in the daytime and charge at night, when there is adequate load capacity. No problem. But when Over-The-Road trucks start charging in the daytime, that’s when the peak demand goes up. I expect to see more time-of-use billing practices in the future. Here’s a typical winter day (today) in the California grid. It varies from about 20 GW at night to 26 GW peak in the daytime. That’s in January; summer differences are much larger.

January 3, 2019 8:11 am

Duke hosts the Nicolas School of Climate Science. That’s where the guy who hired, promoted, and participated in EPA fraudster John Beale’s career went to work. Anything coming out of there requires close examination.

Greg Woods
January 3, 2019 9:00 am


One person’s recycling won’t stop climate change in itself. We must act collectively
Emily Mulligan

Climate change is happening now and it’s happening faster and much worse than predicted. It’s threatening to the world we know and everything in it. It’s already killing people. This is beyond doubt or argument.
(So eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die)

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 3, 2019 9:07 am

A study suggests that growing prosperity in China coupled with expected future global warming will drive an explosion in Chinese electricity Demand.

No doubt continued industrial outsourcing from US and Europe as part of “reducing carbon emissions” will also drive up Chinese electricity usage. Chasing industry abroad increases foreign energy usage — who knew?

January 3, 2019 9:50 am

Really more navel gazing wondering what if the climate models are right…

Predicting electricity demand without factoring in climate has been very difficult and fraught with problems for years. Here in the TVA area we are paying for bonds on Nuclear plants that were not constructed in the late 70’s. There were other reasons they didn’t get built but the main one was a lack of predicted demand.

Those nuclear bonds fit nicely with the failed wind, bio-fuels, and solar investments we have in our stuff-to-pay-for-that never-generated-electricity portfolio. On the bright side we do have people who’s net worth was increased substantially by these investments. Guess that’s something.

Bruce Cobb
January 3, 2019 12:03 pm

No probs – I’m sure China will do the right thing for The Planet, and institute stiff carbon taxes pronto. I mean, they are the new Climate Leaders, right?

January 3, 2019 12:14 pm

Uh we’re not supposed to notice China’s emissions or policy steps until 2030 by Paris Agreement, remember.

Tombstone Gabby
January 3, 2019 2:05 pm

Reading the headlines in this mornings Sydney Morning Herald (20190103) – China’s economy is slumping, driving the $AU v $US to it’s lowest point in over three years. So is China going up or down?

January 3, 2019 4:01 pm

There is no holding back the Chinese now. They will want their reliable coal-driven power. By 2030, no one will say boo to the Chinese Energy Policy at all.

michael hart
January 3, 2019 4:53 pm

“…said William Pizer, an expert in public and environmental policy at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who led the new research.”

Oh Lord, please save us from these self-proclaimed experts in things that shouldn’t be.

Johann Wundersamer
January 3, 2019 5:13 pm

“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!”


Nonetheless, the news in germany today jubilate “40% energy in germany from renewables”:


Johann Wundersamer
January 3, 2019 5:53 pm

The most popular allegation of Green believers is CACC deniers are flat earthers who want to give simple answers to complex questions.

But this only suggests that green belivers are unable to resolve complex issues into simple, cohesive problems.

Roland Hirsch
January 4, 2019 9:13 am

The projections for China are ridiculous. China’s demand for energy will be lower in 2099 than it is now, because its population will be at least 200 million lower than today and much older.

There are more people in China today aged 40 to 60 than aged 0 to 20. See:
These projections assume that China can get the fertility rate up to 2.25 to keep the birth rate at the replacement rate (which is higher than 2.1 because of the reduced number of women due to the one-child policy and preference for male children).

The death rate in China is lower than it will be in the future as so many (estimated 65 million) who would now be in their 70s and 80s were killed in the 1950s and 1960s by Mao’s regime. By the 2050s there will be more deaths than births in China.

Thus projections of energy use in China in 2099 need to reflect the decreasing and much older population the country will have then.

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