Summary: For many in the world, staying cool in the heat of summer is as important as staying warm in the winter is to those of us who live in the the northern latitudes. And yet it often gets a lot less attention in the electricity security and supply debate. As the world continues to warm, and as those in the Global South become more affluent, this is going to become an increasingly important contributor to electricity demand. The good news is that there are solutions - among which demand management is potentially one of the most powerful and (technically) easily implemented.
Why this is important: Recent attention has been focused on the need to strengthen our electricity grids to accommodate variable sources of generation, such as renewables. But there are also ways of helping the electricity supply we have go further. This can postpone the need for extra spending AND reduce some of the transition risks.
The big theme: When most people think about the security of electricity supply they tend to start from "making sure we have enough supply to meet demand". But what if we turn the question around. Instead of thinking about electricity demand as being fixed, why not start with "what demand can we shift into periods of surplus or cheaper supply". Welcome to the world of demand management - probably the least known, but potentially most important tool we have for decarbonising our electricity systems.
Summary of a report from The Energy Efficiency Council
Rob Murray-Leach: Enabling a zero emissions energy system with energy management, renewables and electrification - April 2023
A rapid shift to renewable generation offers the promise of cleaner and more affordable electricity, but the transition to variable renewables is uncharted and complex. To address these challenges, we need substantial investment in renewable generation, storage, transmission networks, electrification and renewable fuels. However, if we don’t complement these investments with energy management, the shift to clean energy will be slower, more expensive and runs the risk of reducing reliability.