Energy Production in Northern Europe

Impact of a Changing Climate on Weather-dependent Energy Production

What do the results tell us?

Based on current state-of-the art climate modelling, the main climate impacts for the electricity demand and supply in Northern Europe are a decrease in heating energy demand due to higher temperatures, and increase in hydropower output due to higher rainfall. The influence of climate change on wind power and PV generation is uncertain with current knowledge. These results suggest the overall impacts of climate change on normal operation of power and heat sectors are likely to be slightly positive in the North-European region.

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What can we do with the results?

The results indicate that climate change has a minor, positive impact on the electricity demand-supply balance in North-Europe. The modelled impacts from climate change will lower slightly the production capacity investment required in this particular region, which can be used in long-term energy investment planning and foresight for future energy technology demand.

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How are the results obtained?

The climate impacts (temperature, rainfall, solar insolation, wind speeds) are obtained from state-of-the art climate models up to 2100. This data is converted to energy demand and production prospects, and used in the energy system models VTT-TIMES and Balmorel. VTT-TIMES is a model of global energy production and use, and used for modelling the overall electricity demand in Europe in different climate scenarios. Balmorel is more detailed electricity system model focusing on North-Europe, and is used in modelling the investment and operation of the energy production technologies to meet the forecasted demand.

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What are the broader applications?

The results are specific to the geographical area considered (i.e. Northern Europe) and do consider only gradual climate change (i.e. no extreme effects). For more southern regions, rising temperature will increase electricity consumption due to higher cooling demand. In addition, extreme weather effects or increased weather variability are likely to have adverse effects on the power system, but these were not covered in this study.

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Key Messages and Conclusions

Energy production in Northern Europe faces slight benefits under climate change

The gap between supply and demand in the Nordic region sees benefits from climate change due to a slight decrease in heat demand during warmer winters, and with hydro power availability increasing due to increased rainfall. Adapting to the lower energy demand can reduce the total energy system costs further. A changing climate will not significantly affect the energy production from wind and solar in Northern Europe.

(Click on chart image to explore the data)

Capacity investments [MW] towards 2050 in different RCP scenarios (in each cluster, from left to right: BASE, RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5).

Annual costs for RCP4.5 divided by the different technologies and various SSP scenarios.

Annual costs for SSP4 divided by the different technologies and various RCP scenarios.