The shape matters! How structural changes in the electricity load curve affect optimal investments in generation capacity
Assessing the needs for investments in new electricity generation capacity requires sound assumptions about the future electricity load curve. Electricity market/system models usually apply today's consumption patterns by simply scaling the empiric load curve according to annual demand forecasts. Since this approach includes variations in the demand of specific end use appliances only as changes in the annual totals, it neglects future changes in the hourly demand structure (e.g. through efficiency measures or the use of new appliances). This paper aims to close this gap by developing a suitable approach to approximate the future electricity load curve, taking into account shifts in annual electricity demand. In the framework of a case study, we determine an adjusted future electricity load curve for a specific scenario. Subsequently, we assess the impacts of changes in the load curve on the investments in and the dispatch of both conventional and renewable power plants.