Vulnerabilities and resilience of European power generation to 1.5 °C, 2 °C and 3 °C warming

I. Tobin, W. Greuell, S. Jerez, F. Ludwig, R. Vautard*, M.T.H. van Vliet, F.M. Breón

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The electricity sector is currently considered mainly on the emission side of the climate change equation. In order to limit climate warming to below 2 °C, or even 1.5 °C, it must undergo a rapid transition towards carbon neutral production by the mid-century. Simultaneously, electricity generating technologies will be vulnerable to climate change. Here, we assess the impacts of climate change on wind, solar photovoltaic, hydro and thermoelectric power generation in Europe using a consistent modelling approach across the different technologies. We compare the impacts for different global warming scenarios: +1.5 °C, +2 °C and +3 °C. Results show that climate change has negative impacts on electricity production in most countries and for most technologies. Such impacts remain limited for a 1.5 °C warming, and roughly double for a 3 °C warming. Impacts are relatively limited for solar photovoltaic and wind power potential which may reduce up to 10%, while hydropower and thermoelectric generation may decrease by up to 20%. Generally, impacts are more severe in southern Europe than in northern Europe, inducing inequity between EU countries. We show that a higher share of renewables could reduce the vulnerability of power generation to climate change, although the variability of wind and solar PV production remains a significant challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Article number044024
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • climate change impacts
  • Electricity generation
  • hydropower
  • solar pv
  • thermoelectric
  • wind power

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