A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts that as climate change continues to accelerate average temperatures, electrical grids may be unable to meet peak energy needs by the end of the century.
The electrical grid is the central component of energy distribution and consumption. In order to upgrade this massive infrastructure to meet increasing demands, the researchers behind the study estimate nearly $180 billion would have to be invested in the U.S. grid.
This from the study:
As the electricity grid is built to endure maximum load, our findings have significant implications for the construction of costly peak generating capacity.
On top of acknowledging the correlation between increasingly hot days and higher demand for electricity (i.e. increased use of air conditioners and other cooling units), the study also acknowledges how the grid could react to this extra demand for electricity during peak hours of the day.
The researchers point out potential spikes in electricity use. Because the current grid infrastructure depends on consistency, spikes such as those predicted in the study could potentially overload the grid.
But the $180 billion would not solely go toward generating electricity. The study states that the grid would need improvements in capacity, storage, and transmission.
This from Phys:
If the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, without any major effort to mitigate the damage caused by greenhouse gases, the United States’ peak electrical needs could rise by as much as 18 percent and cost around $180 billion, said the report.
Looking solely at average daily electricity use, researchers said that would rise by about 2.8 percent by century’s end.
Researchers further suggest that increased use of solar energy could help smooth out the peak demand, but also cautions that just because the days are hot, does not mean the sun will be shining.