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Can America integrate enough energy efficiency solutions to overcome the likelihood of brownouts this Summer through the end of 2024?

Edmund Connolly's picture
Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Manager, Family office

A reliable, innovative, and multi-tasking, award-winning Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Management Professional with 10+ years of progressively responsible experience leading commercial,...

  • Member since 2020
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  • May 22, 2023

A 6+-year professional in energy efficiency across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, I returned to America a few years ago. I have been surprised at how far behind America is in integrating cost effective energy efficiency solutions - especially commercially and industrially.

The article pasted below from the University of Oxford illustrates some of the challenge societies across Europe will face this Summer given the significantly hotter temperatures countries from Portugal in the West to Italy and Greece in the South to Germany and the UK in the north of Europe have been facing. 

I imagine HVAC companies will have a banner year in 2023 and likely another in 2024 given how limited the AC install base is across Europe. 

Most weather forecasts for America call for significantly higher temperatures this Summer across the South, Southeast, Mid Atlantic, and Northeast regions of America. Will the increased likelihood of brownouts across America finally convince American commercial and industrial power consumers to integrate energy efficiency solutions? 

During my years abroad managing an ESCO dedicated to commercial and industrial accounts, most industrial and commercial companies for which we designed and integrated energy efficiency solutions enjoyed reductions in the consumption of water and electricity of 15% to as much as 60%.  We achieved the greatest savings for some of the biggest polluters - cement plants, steel plants, and aluminum plants as well as commercial hotels and shopping malls. 

Having met with various manufacturing plant and building owners in the Northeast, I am surprised at how little integration of large volume energy efficiency has been completed versus other regions of the world.

What changes are needed to convince commercial and industrial power consumers to cross the energy efficiency adoption chasm in America?

Extremely hot days are warming twice as fast as average summer days in North-West Europe


A study published today in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the maximum temperature of the hottest days is increasing at twice the rate of the maximum temperature of average summer days. The results highlight the need for urgent action by policy makers to adapt essential infrastructure to the impacts of climate change.


A portrait photograph of Dr Matthew Patterson. Image credit: University of Oxford.

Dr Matthew Patterson. Image credit: University of Oxford.

New research led by the University of Oxford has found that climate change is causing the hottest days in North-West Europe to warm at double the rate of average summer days. The difference in trends is most pronounced for England, Wales, and Northern France. Worryingly, while current climate models accurately predict the rate of warming for average days, they underestimate the rate at which the hottest days are warming compared to observations.


According to lead researcher Dr Matthew Patterson, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics, the results indicate that extreme heat events – such as the UK’s record-breaking heatwave last summer – are likely to become more regular. Dr Patterson said: ‘These findings underline the fact that the UK and neighbouring countries are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and that last year’s heatwave was not a fluke. Policy makers urgently need to adapt their infrastructure and health systems to cope with the impacts of higher temperatures.’

For the study, Dr Patterson analysed data from the past 60 years (1960-2021) recording the maximum daily temperature, provided by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Although the maximum recorded temperature varied between years, the overall trend clearly showed that the hottest days for North-West Europe had warmed at twice the rate of average summer days. For England and Wales, the average summer day increased by approximately 0.26°C per decade, whilst the hottest day increased by around 0.58°C per decade. However, this faster warming of the hottest days was not observed to this extent elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.

The rapid warming of hot days relative to average days in north-west Europe is concerning and not yet fully understood. Scientists need to clarify the underlying mechanism in order to understand whether this pattern will continue into the future. Equally, these results show that the UK is already experiencing the effects of climate change and needs to adapt accordingly.


Dr Matthew Patterson, Department of Physics, University of Oxford

The reason causing this faster warming of the hottest days relative to average summer days is not yet understood. According to Dr Patterson, this may be due to the hottest summer days in North-West Europe often being linked to hot air transported north from over Spain. Because Spain is warming faster than North-West Europe, this means that air carried in from this region is ever more extreme relative to the ambient air in North-West Europe. The hottest days of 2022, for instance, were driven by a plume of hot air carried north from Spain and the Sahara. However, further research is needed to verify this.

Dr Patterson added: ‘Understanding the warming rate of the hottest days will be important if we are to improve climate model simulation of extreme events and make accurate predictions about the future intensity of such events. If our models underestimate the rise in extreme temperatures over the coming decades, we will underestimate the impacts this will have.’

Extreme heat has significant negative impacts on many different aspects of society, including energy and transport infrastructure, and agriculture. It also exacerbates conditions including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, putting a strain on health services.

The current UK Government has been criticised by the Climate Change Committee (CCC) for failing to act quickly enough to adapt for the impacts of global heating. These new findings add even more urgency for policy makers to adapt infrastructure and systems vulnerable to extreme heat.

The study ‘North-West Europe hottest days are warming twice as fast as mean summer days’ has been published in Geophysical Research Letters.


A line graph to show the time series of average summer (black) and maximum summer (red) daily maximum temperatures averaged over England and Wales, 1960-2021

Time series of average summer (black) and maximum summer (red) daily maximum temperatures averaged over England and Wales, 1960-2021. Trend-lines are also shown for each time series. Image credit: Matthew Patterson, Department of Physics, University of Oxford.

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on May 24, 2023

Edmund, If you check the news Tesla Energy has already solved the brown outs and other power fluctuations . The past summer thy demonstared the VPP Virtual Power Plant . I used thousands of Solar Battery homes to help the GRID at short times when needed most. The utilties had no more problems and it was less cost than they had for Peaker Plants or other options. Tesla is signing up thousands of homes in Texas right now (Summer 23) so they can stablize that independant GRID this year. 

Edmund Connolly's picture
Edmund Connolly on May 31, 2023


Thank you for sharing. I was unaware of Tesla's VPP. I agree that VPPs will play an integral role moving forward destressing grids across America, reducing the need for gas peaker supplied power, etc.

I just wish American residential and commercial customers would adopt energy efficiency measure more in-line with what their colleagues in Europe and parts of Asia have done. 


Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on May 30, 2023

Russia's invasion of Ukraine provided most of Europe with the necessary motivation to hit the accelerator on EE. I'm not what would have to happen for America to do the same. 

In my anecdotal experience, Europeans are much more inclined to conserving energy than Americans. I've spent a lot of time in different parts of the continent and I've yet to walk into a business or home that's AC'd to a chill in the summer. In America, by contrast, a longsleve shirt is basically mandatory for cinema and shopping excursions in the summer and many people I know keep their homes below 70. 

Edmund Connolly's picture
Edmund Connolly on May 31, 2023


I agree. 


Having worked across a few dozen countries, I can say honestly that Europeans, Scandinavians, and some Asians are a decade or more ahead of American businesses and consumers regarding adoption of energy efficiency. 

I hope Americans will adopt energy efficiency measures more aggressively. It would benefit everyone in multiple ways.

Edmund Connolly's picture
Thank Edmund for the Post!
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