Interconnections between urbanization and electricity consumption in the United States

Authors: Pranab Roy Chowdhury*, University of Tennessee, Christa M. Brelsford , Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Budhendra L. Bhaduri, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Topics: Sustainability Science, Energy, Urban Geography
Keywords: urbanization, electricity, energy, population, United States, urban science
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban areas consume around 75% of global primary energy supply, resulting in 70% of total energy consumption related CO2 emissions. Projected growth in urban dwellers, slated to account for 68% of the world’s population by 2050, could cause a massive increase in future demands. Electricity is the second largest and the fastest growing energy fuel by end-use, that meets around 19% of global energy needs. About 40% of total energy demand growth is expected to be in the form of electricity consumption through 2040. Thus, the policymakers face the challenge of ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply while reducing environmental impacts from electricity generation. The urban areas display high energy demands and diversity of usage and present unique opportunities for implementing energy efficiency measures and clean energy practices. The expanding population, infrastructure, and activities increase electricity demands, while the increased wealth, socio-economic and technological advancements promote transitional changes resulting in the lowering of per-capita usage. Thus, urban area centric energy analysis is required to quantify present dynamics, allowing for better energy planning. However, the lack of urban scale data obscures the inter-urban variations and hinders urban energy system analysis. In this work, we create a geospatial data-driven urban electricity consumption model to quantify the expected change in electricity consumption in response to urbanization in the United States and identify the limits to the returns of scale in per capita electricity consumption in US urban system.

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