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Impact of climate change on Spanish electricity demand


This paper evaluates the influence that climate change could exert on electricity demand patterns in Spain conditioned on the level of warming, with special attention to the seasonal occurrence of extreme demand days. For this purpose, assuming the currently observed electricity demand–temperature relationship holds in the future, we have generated daily time series of pseudo-electricity demand for the recent past and the twenty-first century by using simulated temperatures from statistical downscaling of global climate model experiments. We show that both the frequency and severity of extreme electricity demand days at the national level are expected to increase, even for low levels of regional warming. Moreover, the occurrence of these extremes will experience a seasonal shift from winter to summer due to the projected temperature increases in both seasons. Under a RCP8.5 scenario of greenhouse gas emissions, the extended summer season (June–September) will concentrate more than 50% of extreme electricity demand days by the mid-century, increasing to 90% before the end of the century. These changes in electricity demand have considerable spatial heterogeneity over the country, with northwestern Spain experiencing the seasonal shift later than the rest of the country, due to the relatively mild summer temperatures and lower projected warming there.

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We thank the Spanish Agencia Estatal de Meteorología (AEMET) and Red Eléctrica de España (REE) for providing temperature and electricity demand data, respectively. The authors are also grateful to the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and the modelling groups for producing and making available their model outputs. The authors thank three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.


This study was funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte [grant number FPU16/01972]; the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad [grant number RYC-2014-15036] and the Spanish Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad [grant number CGL2017-83198-R].

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by J.M.G.P. The first draft of the manuscript was written by J.M.G.P. and D.B. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. The funding acquisition was obtained by C.O. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jose M. Garrido-Perez.

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Garrido-Perez, J.M., Barriopedro, D., García-Herrera, R. et al. Impact of climate change on Spanish electricity demand. Climatic Change 165, 50 (2021).

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  • Climate change
  • Electricity demand
  • Energy
  • Electricity consumption
  • Extreme events
  • Adaptation