Projected Energy Usage in a Warmer Future


Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are projected to increase in the future and result in the Earth’s warming. Estimating future energy consumption is an issue of immense importance to society. In a study published in the August issue of Geophysical Research Letters, David Erickson of ORNL and colleagues in geophysics and economics, report gradually increasing temperatures will create a greater demand for air-conditioning and, in turn, a greater demand for energy and greater demand for coal to be burned at fossil fuel power plants to produce the needed energy. Analysis of effects of future projected climate change on energy usage and costs for the period 2000-2025 are based on the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS), a numerical economic model developed by the Department of Energy. The NEMS model was driven with output from a climate model implemented on Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s IBM Cheetah Supercomputer. NEMS includes data on building codes and census figures from every county in the United States, along with expected population changes during the time period. The coupling of global climate models on regional scales with state-of-the-art economic modeling to assess the effects of future climate change on energy use makes this study the first of its kind The study was funded through ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and DOE Office of Sciences Office of Biological and Environmental Research.


Hadley, S., D. J. Erickson III, J. Hernandez, C. Broniak, and T. J. Blasing. 2006. “Responses of energy use to climate change: A climate modeling study,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 33(16).