…Electricity Consumption Will Grow Again…
(For the record: Articles published in January of 2018, i.e., four years ago, foresaw the reason why consumption of electricity was flat and accurately predicted when growth would resume. See note for link to these articles.)
Today, consumption of electricity in the US has been unchanged for the past ten years, but is about to grow again.
(See article: Excess Generating Capacity for details about why new power generation has been added when there has been no increase in demand.)
The most important energy saving technology in history has caused growth to stall over the past decade.
The lowly light bulb is the reason why electricity demand has stagnated. But this has been a special light bulb using light emitting diodes (LEDs) rather than a filament.
Over the past decade, LEDs have largely replaced incandescent bulbs.
Nearly all the change has taken place in the residential sector. Incandescent bulbs are a very small part of commercial lighting and have practically no use in industrial settings.
The following table shows that lighting, as a percentage of residential consumption of electricity, has decreased from 17% in 2000, to 4% in 2020, with most of the reduction taking place in the past five years.
The average size of the lightbulb, i.e., lamp, has nearly decreased to where it would be, i.e., around 12 to 15%, if LEDs accounted for all lighting in the residential sector.
From this point forward, residential consumption of electricity will likely grow as population grows, at around 1 to 1.5% per year.
Industrial growth was interrupted by the 2008 economic crisis and again by the COVID pandemic, so growth of electricity consumption in the industrial sector will depend on growth in economic activity.
Growth in the use of electricity in the transportation sector will be dependent on the use of battery powered vehicles.
While economic conditions may preclude growth over the next year or two, it’s highly likely that there will be significant growth in electricity consumption over the next decade.
Whether this remains at around 1 to 1.5% per year or substantially higher will depend on the adoption rate of battery powered vehicles.
The important conclusion is that, for the first time since 2010 there will be a genuine need for new power generation capacity.
This is an opportunity for nuclear power to step in to fill the need.
. . .