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The climate crisis threatens to shift electricity demand peaks from winter to summer before 2050

The electricity demand in Spain associated with the weather will increase significantly in the coming decades and it will be in summer – instead of in winter – when more extremes occur that require greater electricity consumption as a result of the climate crisis, according to research by the Complutense University Madrid (UCM).

Historically the days with the highest electricity demand in Spain occur in winter, but this situation will change in the middle of the century, according to the study published in Climatic Change, which takes as a reference a climate scenario in which emissions of greenhouse gases they increase following the evolution of the last decades.

The increase in temperature associated with climate change is expected to lead to a decrease in consumption on cold days and an increase on warm days

Jose Manuel Garrido Perez

On cold days, consumption increases by the use of heaters, while on warm days cooling systems such as the air-conditioning. “Taking this into account, it is expected that the increase in temperature associated with climate change will lead to a decrease in consumption on cold days and an increase on warm days,” he says. Jose Manuel Garrido Perez, researcher at the Department of Earth Physics and Astrophysics of the UCM and the Institute of Geosciences (CSIC-UCM).

This work quantifies for the first time the change in electricity demand patterns in Spain for different time horizons and warming levels, on a national and local scale.

Useful tool for managers in southern Europe

To carry out the study, after a complex treatment of raw demand data to extract the component associated with meteorology, the researchers have established a relationship between demand and temperature and have developed a statistical model that allows estimating how electricity demand will be along the XXI century.

In general, changes in electricity demand will be quite unequal throughout the Spanish geography “due to the climatic variety and spatial differences in the projections of temperature increases,” the authors point out.

The greatest increase in extreme days of electricity demand in summer seems to be in northwestern Spain

Jose Manuel Garrido Perez

In general, changes in electricity demand will be quite uneven throughout the Spanish geography

Garrido Pérez highlights that, in the long term, “the greatest increase in extreme days of electrical demand in summer it seems that it will occur in the northwest of Spain, mainly due to the fact that historically they have hardly occurred in this region due to its characteristic mild summers ”. However, he adds, it is expected to be a slower change than in other regions as projections suggest less warming.

Although the uncertainty variable is present in these estimates, these results can help managers, especially in southern Europe, to improve efficiency, solve energy supply problems and better cope with changes in demand patterns.

Reference:

Garrido-Perez, JM et al. “Impact of climate change on Spanish electricity demand”. Climatic Change

Rights: Creative Commons.

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