Adaptation challenges and opportunities for the European energy system (2019)

This EEA report analyses the needs for climate change adaptation and climate resilience in Europe’s energy system now and in the future. This assessment supports the clean energy transition, which involves a massive expansion of renewable energy sources, many of which are sensitive to climate factors.

According to the EEA assessment, climate change impacts and related adaptation needs vary significantly across European regions. In general, northern Europe will experience both beneficial and adverse impacts on its energy system, whereas southern European regions face overwhelmingly adverse impacts.

Selected climate change impacts on the energy system across Europe

In particular the study finds that:

  • Water availability is generally projected to increase in northern Europe and decrease in southern Europe, but with marked seasonal differences. These changes can affect cooling water availability for thermal power plants, hydropower and bioenergy potential, fuel transport on rivers, and energy demand for water provision.
  • Replacing coal‑fired power plants by solar and wind power radically reduces greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, thus contributing to mitigation as well as adaptation in water‑scarce regions.
  • Biofuels and carbon capture and storage require significant amounts of water or arable land, which may limit their expansion, in particular in water-scarce regions.
  • Warming temperatures decrease energy demand for heating, but increase energy demand for cooling. They can also affect electricity generation and transmission.
  • Climate change can affect the potential for wind and solar power, but available projections are associated with significant uncertainty.
  • Several studies indicate that, without appropriate adaptation measures, direct damages to the European energy system from extreme weather events could amount to billions of euros per year by the end of the century, with much larger indirect costs.

The evolving policy framework under the Energy Union provides unique opportunities for mainstreaming climate change adaptation in national and European energy planning. The assessment recommends considering the impacts of climate change in the development of national climate and energy plans and long‑term strategies under the EU Energy Union. Market actors in the energy sector should also consider strengthening climate resilience as an integral part of their business.

Read the report here.


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