Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, 2017-09-23
http://www.hzg.de/030632/index_0030632.html.en

Impacts and costs: water, energy , tourism, transport and infrastructure

Project impacts and costs of a global mean temperature increase of 2°C (and 1.5°C) on freshwater, energy and tourism on pan-European level using a detailed multi-model ensemble. The focus will be on water stress, flooding and water resources, defining the possible impacts, the related costs and the uncertainty.

Wind and solar energy in a 2°C warmer climate

In a 2°C warmer climate, the wind power potential in Europe will be altered only to a small extent. Mean energy yields of the European and national wind farms fleets currently operating and projected by 2050 will change by less than 5% in magnitude. Preliminary results from an ongoing study on photovoltaïc (PV) energy also show limited changes in PV power potential and plants yields. Consequently, a 2°C global warming should not undermine nor favor the wind and PV energy development in Europe. However, accounting for local resource changes could help optimize wind and PV power plants management and planning.
European Union is committed to drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions : a 40 % reduction target has been set for 2030 as a step toward the 80 % reduction objective for 2050. Renewable energies, in particular wind and solar energy, are intended to occupy a large share in European energy mix. Wind energy already provides more than 30 % of the electricity supply in several countries such as Denmark and its share in the European electricity mix should increase from today's 7 % to 15 % by 2020. The total installed wind power capacity in Europe currently exceeds 100GW and could be multiplied by 3-4 by 2050. Regarding solar photovoltaïc (PV) power capacity, almost 80 GW are already installed and a 500 GW capacity could be exceeded by 2050 according to several energy scenarios (ECF 2010).

However, renewable energies are potentially vulnerable to climate changes, e.g. through changes in large-scale circulations which may alter intensity and patterns of both near-surface winds and cloudiness. In the framework of the IMPACT2C project, the impacts of a 2°C global warming, a level that will be likely reached according to most climate scenarios, on wind and PV energy in Europe have been studied. An ensemble of nine state-of-the-art climate regional projections, made up of five simulations under the scenario RCP4.5 and four under the scenario RCP8.5, have been used.

Figure a: Ensemble mean annual changes in 10meters wind speed expected in a 2°C warmer climate, relative to the recent 1971-2000 period (in %). Robust changes are marked with black dots. (click picture to enlarge) Figure a: Ensemble mean annual changes in 10meters wind speed expected in a 2°C warmer climate, relative to the recent 1971-2000 period (in %). Robust changes are marked with black dots. (click picture to enlarge)

The modeled wind speeds have been converted into turbine-generated power using standard manufacturor power curves at every location in Europe and in particular over turbines currently in operation and projected by 2050 (Tobin et al, 2014). Over most of Europe, changes in near-surface wind speed are projected to be weak and not distinguishable from natural variability (Figure a).

Figure b: Same as a) but for wind power potential. (click picture to enlarge) Figure b: Same as a) but for wind power potential. (click picture to enlarge)

Small robust changes (by a few %) are highlighted in some regions. These changes lead to changes in wind power potential which are slighlty stronger but still within +-5 % (Figure b). Slight decreases are projected over the Atlantic and Mediterranean regions, except over the Turkish Western coast where a slight increase is highlighted. A small increase will also occur over parts of the Baltic Sea.

Figure c: Future changes in wind power production for the whole European fleet (magenta) and the 15 biggest national fleets (cyan) currently installed in Europe, expected in a 2°C warmer climate, relative to the recent 1971-2000 period (in %). The colored wide bars indicate the ensemble mean, the symbols represent individual model changes (the red color indicates significant changes, the blue one are not significant (95 % level)). The thin black bars draw the 95 % confidence interval. (click picture to enlarge) Figure c: Future changes in wind power production for the whole European fleet (magenta) and the 15 biggest national fleets (cyan) currently installed in Europe, expected in a 2°C warmer climate, relative to the recent 1971-2000 period (in %). The colored wide bars indicate the ensemble mean, the symbols represent individual model changes (the red color indicates significant changes, the blue one are not significant (95 % level)). The thin black bars draw the 95 % confidence interval. (click picture to enlarge)

The resulting changes in the wind farms mean annual yields are projected by all models to be smaller than 5 % in magnitude at the national and European scales (Figure c). This result applies to current operational wind farms as well as to projected plants by 2050.

Thus, the European future wind energy resources should not be strongly altered by a 2°C global warming. However, these changes, albeit small, might be considered in wind energy planning. In addition, changes in other factors such as land use, aerosols, storms, icing which can also impact wind power production must be studied.

First results from an ongoing study on PV solar energy, using a similar approach, suggest that effects of a 2°C global warming on the PV production will also remain limited.

References

European Climate Foundation (ECF) (2010). Roadmap 2050 : A practical guide to a prosperous, low-carbon Europe. Volume 1 : technical and economic assessment.

Tobin, I. ,Vautard, V., Balog, I. and co-authors (2014). Assessing climate change impacts on European wind energy from ENSEMBLES high-resolution climate projections. Climatic Change. DOI : 10.1007/s10584-014-1291-0

Participants

PIK, MET.NO, SMHI, JRC, ENEA, CNRS-IPSL, WU, TUC, PWA, SOTON, GFC

Deliverables