MADRID – The summer of 2023 has broken several climate records. According to the Servicio de Cambio Climático de Copernicus, July was the warmest month on Earth since climate data became available.
In Spain, the weather service Aemet has issued four special heatwave warnings, including one with three of the ten hottest days in Spain since 1950.
Strong increase in cooling requirement
The rise in temperatures in Spain has greatly increased the need for air conditioning or other forms of cooling. According to the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and Eurostat, cooling demand in Spain has increased by no less than 2.6 times over the past four decades.
Spain as an air conditioning hot spot
Spain now ranks third in the European Union in terms of cooling needs, surpassed only by Malta and Cyprus. Interestingly, the provinces in the northwest of the peninsula, such as Ourense, Asturias and Lugo, have seen the greatest increases.
Regional differences and energy consumption
Jaén, Seville, Córdoba and Cáceres are among the ten European regions with the highest number of cooling days. This leads to an increase in energy demand. Although this generally does not lead to higher electricity prices, thanks to the rise of solar energy, it remains a concern.
The other side of energy poverty
Xaquín García-Muros, researcher at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), emphasises in Newtral that energy poverty is not just a winter problem. The increasing heatwaves confirm the need to maintain adequate temperatures in homes even in summer, especially for the most vulnerable population groups.
“Heatwaves lead to an increase in morbidity and affect daily life and work performance, something that mainly affects the most vulnerable population. If you live in a house without air conditioning in Madrid or Seville in the summer, where the temperature rises above 40 degrees, you are in a vulnerable situation,” says the expert.
Towards a sustainable future
According to García-Muros, action should be taken to improve the energy efficiency of homes and make the price of electricity more affordable, particularly through the promotion of solar energy.