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3.5.3. Peak electricity demand for cooling

Climate change affects not only overall energy demand, but also peak demand. Peak electricity demand for cooling, which is almost exclusively provided by electricity, will increase throughout Europe. The main adaptation challenge is related the stability of electricity networks during heatwaves when an increased electricity peak demand for cooling may coincide with limited cooling water supply for thermal power generation. In countries and regions where air conditioning is common, network stability during heat waves needs to be considered in the planning and management of electricity production and distribution infrastructure. The largest absolute increases in electricity peak demand for cooling have been projected for Italy, Spain and France (Damm et al., 2017). A different study, using wider country coverage and somewhat different assumptions, projects increases in average daily electricity peak load over the 21st century under a high emissions scenario of up to 8 % for some Western Balkan countries, with somewhat lower values for EEA member countries (Wenz et al., 2017). Further studies on changes in mean and peak electricity demand in European countries and regions are reviewed in a recent EEA report (EEA, 2017b, section 5.4.3).

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The stability of electricity supply during heatwaves can be increased by strict efficiency standards for cooling equipment, which limit the demand peak; increased transmission capacity, including international linkages; sufficient backup capacity; and shifts to power sources with low water use, such as solar PV.

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