Electricity Demand

Many in the industry are relying on electric vehicles (EVs) to reverse the downward trend in global electricity consumption. But a new report from Redburn, a UK research and investment company, suggests the growing energy efficiency of EVs means that the industry and investors may have to look elsewhere for significant boosts in demand for electrical power, says energy expert Fereidoon Sioshansi of EEinformer. Until recently, the demand for electricity – like that of oil – was always rising. Over the years, as new electricity consuming gadgets were invented and commercialised on a massive scale – starting with incandescent light bulbs, radios, refrigerators, motors, fans, washers and dryers, dishwashers, TVs, air conditioning, electronic devices, personal computers, printers and so on – the demand kept rising. Some in the industry are literally salivating at the prospects of EVs and, more broadly, the electrification of the transport sector to boost electricity demand in the same way that the commercialisation of air conditioning did in the 1950-70s – a trend that is still strong in many developing economies. Moore and his colleagues, who have looked at the numbers, do not expect the electrification of the cars to dent the established trends towards reduced electricity consumption. The reason? Ever more energy-efficient lighting and motors. According to Redburn, the prevailing standard efficiency IE1 motors are being banned and premium efficiency IE3 motors will become mandatory around the world – saving as much as 13% depending on the size of the motor. Moore says it will take roughly 15 years for the entire installed motor base to be replaced with the new standard, which will reduce global electricity demand by 0.7% per annum. A similar scenario applies to lighting – currently accounting for roughly 22% of the global electricity demand. Here again, significant reductions in consumption can be achieved by switching to more efficient types of lighting, such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), which currently account for 20% of new global lighting unit sales. While Redburn’s projections on EV sales are in line with many other main-stream studies, their prediction that massive EV sales will not have much of an impact on electricity sales – due to the offsetting impact of energy efficiency gains – is surprising, contradicting those who expect a much bigger rise in electricity consumption. To make sure we were not misinterpreting their findings, we contacted Moore, who responded that, “A number of investors seemed surprised that EVs will not boost electricity demand growth more, but no one has made any legitimate challenges to either Redburn’s methodology or the numbers.” Asked what else may boost dormant electricity sales, Moore said Redburn is presently trying to determine to what degree data centres will increase electricity demand, given the growth of information and communication technologies, cloud computing, storage and the much-hyped Internet of Things.

Energy Post 6th Nov 2018 read more »

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Published: 10 November 2018