New peak demand data shows the impacts of climate change
- Aug 20, 2021 3:21 pm GMT
The summer of 2021, and even the spring, has been filled with unseasonably hot days, forcing people around the country to crank their air conditioning and requiring freezers and refrigerators to work a little harder.
We've heard anectdotes and read localized data of how warmer (or colder, looking at you, Texas) temperatures cause more stress on the grid. Now, we have national evidence of the impact. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that on Aug. 12, most of the U.S. in the lower 48 reported an average high temperature above 90 degrees. This resulted in an hourly electric demand of 720 gigawatt hours between 4p and 5p EST, a new all-time high since the load balancing authorities began reporting this data to the EIA in July 2015.
The previous all-time high was 718 gigawatt hours in July 2017.
"Demand for electricity is one of the most important metrics BAs consider when managing their grid systems because grid operators must have enough electric generating capacity available to meet the highest level of electricity demand," the EIA release says.
Hotter days are ahead. The highs will be higher and the lows will be lower. It's important to see this new all-time high as we need to stay aware and be prepared for the heightening ceiling of energy demand. If we're unprepared, we will have another near grid failure like in Texas, or rolling blackouts seen in northern Califoria.
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