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The shape of future electricity demand: Exploring load curves in 2050s Germany and Britain

: Boßmann, Tobias; Staffell, Iain


Energy 92 (2015), Pt.2, S.1317-1333
ISSN: 0360-5442
Fraunhofer ISI ()
electricity demand; load forecasting; load modelling; electric vehicle; heat pump; electricity

National demand for electricity follows a regular and predictable daily pattern. This pattern is set to change due to efficiency improvements, de-industrialisation and electrification of heat and transport. These changes are independent of renewable infeed and are not well understood: contemporary studies assume that electricity load curves will retain their current shape, scaling equally in all hours. Changes to this shape will profoundly affect the electricity industry: increasing the requirements for flexible and peaking capacity, and reducing asset utilisation and profitability. This paper explores the evolution of load curves to 2050 in Germany and Britain: two countries undergoing radically different energy transformations. It reviews recent developments in Europe's electricitydemand, and introduces two models for synthesising future hourly load curves: eLOAD (electricityLOad curve ADjustment) and DESSTinEE (Demand for Energy Services, Supply and Transmission in EuropE). Both models are applied to a decarbonisation scenario for 2050, and consistently show peak loads increasing by about 23% points above the change in annual demand, to 103 GW in Germany and92 GW in Britain. Sensitivities around electrification show that a million extra heat pumps or electric vehicles add up to 1.5 GW to peak demand. The structure and shape of the future load curves are analysed, and impacts on the national electricity systems are drawn.