Rising heat forces big growth in electricity demand

(Climate News Network, 13 Jan 2021) As temperatures increase, rising heat will mean many power stations falter, leaving homes dark, chilly and short of energy.

US scientists have identified a new anxiety for a world of heat extremes. As the thermometer climbs, they warn, the efficiency of thermal power plants will fall, as the rising heat makes it harder to keep the generators cool.

In a world in which billions of urban dwellers could be exposed to temperatures at the moment experienced in the Sahara desert and other  hotspots, and in which heat and humidity could reach potentially lethal  levels, the problems ahead for energy companies may seem of less consequence.

But rising city temperatures will inevitably be matched by ever-greater demand for electrically-driven air conditioning. And as air and water temperatures rise, and demand increases, turbines driven by coal, oil and gas combustion must, to operate efficiently, be cooled by air or water.

But if the air and water are warmer too, efficiency and then capacity could fall, by as much as 10%, causing periods when power suddenly becomes unavailable.

And on the latest calculations, in the journal Environmental Research Letters, if global average temperatures increase by 2°C, then the number of outages on hot days could double.

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Climate News Network, 14 Jan 2021: Rising heat forces big growth in electricity demand