Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to the AGU, a massive surge in demand for air conditioning could overload the grid in the next decade.
US household air conditioning use could exceed electric capacity in next decade due to climate change
Climate change will drive an increase in summer air conditioning use in the United States likely to cause prolonged blackouts during peak summer heat if states do not expand capacity or improve efficiency, according to a new study of household-level demand.
The study projected summertime usage as global temperature rises 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) or 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, finding demand in the United States overall could rise 8% at the lower and 13% at the higher threshold. The new study was published in Earth’s Future, AGU’s journal for interdisciplinary research on the past, present and future of our planet and its inhabitants.
Human emissions have put the global climate on a trajectory to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the early 2030s, the IPCC reported in its 2021 assessment. Without significant mitigation, global temperatures will likely exceed the 2.0-degree-Celsius threshold by the end of the century.
Technological improvements in the efficiency of home air conditioning appliances could supply the additional cooling needed to achieve current comfort levels after 2.0 degrees global temperature rise without increased demand for electricity, the new study found. Increased efficiency of 1% to 8% would be required, depending on existing state standards and the expected demand increase, with Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma on the high end.
“It’s a pretty clear warning to all of us that we can’t keep doing what we are doing or our energy system will break down in the next few decades, simply because of the summertime air conditioning,” said Susanne Benz, a geographer and climate scientist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was not involved in the new study.
…Read more: https://phys.org/news/2022-02-household-air-conditioning-electric-capacity.html
The abstract of the study;
Implications of Increasing Household Air Conditioning Use Across the United States Under a Warming Climate
First published: 29 December
Soaring temperatures and increased occurrence of heatwaves have drastically increased air-conditioning demand, a trend that will likely continue into the future. Yet, the impact of anthropogenic warming on household air conditioning is largely unaccounted for in the operation and planning of energy grids. Here, by leveraging the state-of-the-art in machine learning and climate model projections, we find substantial increases in future residential air conditioning demand across the U.S.—up to 8% with a range of 5%–8.5% (13% with a range of 11%–15%) after anthropogenic warming of 1.5°C (2.0°C) in global mean temperature. To offset this climate-induced demand, an increase in the efficiency of air conditioners by as much as 8% (±4.5%) compared to current levels is needed; without this daunting technological effort, we estimate that some states will face supply inadequacies of up to 75 million “household-days” (i.e., nearly half a month per average current household) without air conditioning in a 2.0°C warmer world. In the absence of effective climate mitigation and technological adaptation strategies, the U.S. will face substantial increases in air conditioning demand and, in the event of supply inadequacies, there is increased risk of leaving millions without access to space cooling during extreme temperatures.Read more: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2021EF002434
Naturally the study uses RCP 8.5.
I think there will be a surge in energy use, which might create serious pressure on the grid. Not because temperatures will suddenly soar to ridiculous extremes, but because the AI / home robot / technology revolution will send our energy demand through the roof.
Either way, one thing for sure – luxury virtue signalling non solutions like renewables have no place in a world of skyrocketing demand for reliable energy.