The Impact of Global Warming on Renewable Energy Production

Recent temperature records from Copernicus ECMWF indicate a global warming trend that is accelerating, making it increasingly challenging to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree Celsius target. October did set a new temperature record with 0.85 degrees above normal and in Europe 0.4 degrees above normal.

As temperatures continue to rise, the effects of climate change are becoming more evident, with significant consequences for the production of renewable energy. This article explores how global warming is influencing renewable energy sources across Europe, including wind, solar, and hydropower.

Surface air temperature anomaly

Wind Power

Global warming is causing noticeable shifts in wind patterns, impacting wind energy production. Longer periods of stable and unstable weather scenarios in Europe are being observed. Wind power generation is affected by prolonged stationary weather conditions, resulting in both windless periods and strong winds. The changing climate is altering wind patterns, leading to longer summers with reduced autumn, but increased wind in winter and summer, although these trends are highly regional. By looking into the details of the ConWX PPA tool we see the regional differences. For instance, regions like the northern North Sea are experiencing more wind, while areas like France are seeing a decrease. The primary challenge in wind energy production is the extended periods of low wind, which will become more frequent as the temperature gradient between southern and northern regions decreases, ultimately leading to a decline in wind power generation in Europe.

Solar Power

Solar power production is also subject to the influence of global warming. The southern parts of Europe are experiencing an overall increase in solar energy production due to the higher amount of sunlight. However, regions in the north are experiencing more cloud cover, affecting solar power generation. Paradoxically, in these northern areas, solar energy production sees a boost, especially during spring and autumn. The higher temperatures resulting from global warming allow the atmosphere to hold more water vapour, leading to increased cloud formation, particularly over the central part of Europe during the summer months.

Hydro Power

The impacts of global warming on hydroenergy production vary by region. In the Alps and the Pyrenees, prolonged dry periods are causing a reduction in precipitation, resulting in decreased hydropower generation. In contrast, regions like Scandinavia are witnessing an increase in hydroenergy production due to changes in the climate. As a testament to the shift, reservoirs in Norway are currently at 83.6% of their capacity, a few percentage points above the normal levels, indicating increased water resources.

The outlook for the winter? Mild as usual!

The multi-model outlook
The multi-model outlook for December with 0.5-1,5 degrees above normal for December.
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