Countries throughout the northern hemisphere are experiencing record-breaking heat this summer, creating discomfort among residents that is exacerbated by a related fact: the heat is taxing electric grids to their breaking point, knocking out power and, with it, air conditioning.
Of course, air conditioning isn’t the only victim of the power outages. They also take out other home and small business electronics, from TVs and entertainment systems to refrigerators, computers and networking systems. The frequency of outages this summer highlights the need for power protection systems such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) that can keep devices running in the face of outages and surge protectors that protect them from damage.
Record-setting temperatures across the globe
The scope of the problem is hard to overstate, with heat records being shattered across the globe.
In late July, Japan recorded its highest temperature ever: 41.1°C (106°F) in a city about 40 miles northwest of Tokyo. That’s nearly 10 degrees higher than Tokyo’s postwar average August temperature of 31.5°C (88.7° F).
In London, the last Friday in July was dubbed “Furnace Friday” by some newspapers as Europe experienced its longest heat wave since 1976. Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands reached record temperatures of 34.8° and 36.1° C, respectively (94.6° and 97° F).
In early July, downtown Los Angeles reached a new record temperature of 108° F – a full 12° higher than the previous record of 96° F.
High temps over-tax power grids
It’s a similar story in Texas, where record-setting temperatures of over 100° F are wreaking havoc with the power grid.
In late July the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported more than 70 power outages in the Dallas-Fort Worth area related to the heat, knocking out power to hundreds of residents and businesses.
The reason heat waves tax the power grid is simple: excess demand. According to Reuters, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) forecast demand would reach 74,647 megawatts on Monday, July 23, topping the record of 73,259 MW set a few days earlier.
Here’s the stat from the Reuters story that puts the problem in perspective: “One megawatt can usually power about 1,000 U.S. homes. But on a hot day in Texas, ERCOT said one megawatt could only power about 100 homes.” Continue reading