Demand for Electricity Soars

The future ain’t what it used to be

“It’s difficult to make predictions — especially about the future.”

This wise quote has been attributed to everyone from Yogi Berra to Danish physicist Niels Bohr. Climate people likely agree.

Take demand for electricity, for example. It’s growing fast and the outlook is nothing short of extraordinary. But demand for power in the US had been flat over the past decade. Could anyone really have seen this coming? 

So how did we get here?

First came the climate strategy of electrify everything. Using electricity to heat homes, charge cars, cook, decarbonize industrial activity, and more is now widely understood to be the best way to lower greenhouse gas emissions — especially when the electricity is sourced from renewable power. Of course, switching from fossil energy to electricity ramps up demand for the latter. This surge in demand for electricity was clearly in the cards for a while.

Next came the drive to onshore manufacturing. See, for example, President Biden’s IRA plan and its emphasis on domestic jobs. Political pressure for more onshoring continues. This was a less foreseeable addition to the electricity demand.  

And now, seemingly out of the blue, here comes AI with its insatiable appetite for power. According to Goldman Sachs, AI will cause data center power demand to grow 160% by 2030.