Taking a look back at the electricity generation figures over the past six years, it becomes apparent that Malta’s summer bump is about to hit. The below figure plots the maximum energy demand; the highest amount of electricity consumed at any one point in time across Malta’s National grid at that month in Megawat-hours (MWH).
The trend over the past six years is fairly obvious: the winter months start at maximum energy demands in the 300-350 MWH range, before dipping down in Spring, reaching their lowest in May, probably when heating is no longer needed. Demand shoots back up in the summertime, followed by a constant decrease from September, until the cycle picks up again in December.
Forecasting the energy demand is a crucial task for Enemalta, since although they now have sufficient infrastructure to generate an amount of electricity far above what the island ever needs, electricity plants need hours, or even days to get warmed up to produce the required power.
This means that if a greater number of people than Enemalta has forecast decided to use their air conditioner a few days down the line for instance, demand might exceed production, forcing power-cuts until more energy can be generated.
The peak in summer is also true for most western countries, including the United States. Maggie Koerth-Baker, who has charted the United State’s electricity usage noted that the fluctuations “largely expose how humans in the U.S. make themselves comfortable. The biggest seasonal fluctuations in energy happen in homes. What you’re seeing in these charts is, largely, the cool blast of millions of air conditioners as they quell marital disputes, soothe sleeping babies and save lives that might otherwise be lost to heatstroke”.
One way of reducing the surge in demand every summer is to shift from actively cooled homes that use air conditioning, to more passively cooled homes,that focus on minimizing heat gain and dissipating any heat through more energy efficient techniques.