EU Science Hub

Demand for energy

Changes in temperature and precipitation due to climate change are likely to lead to supply-side and demand-side effects in the energy sector. On the demand-side, a warmer climate (with higher temperature) is expected to lead to reduced demand for heating in winter, and increased demand for cooling in summer.

The net effect would depend on the relative weight of each effect. Regarding the supply-side, the higher temperatures are expected to reduce the efficiency of photovoltaic cells and of cooling systems for thermal power plants. In addition, variations in precipitation will affect the efficiency of hydroelectric plants.


The energy assessment study (Dowling, 2013) uses temperature data from the climate runs to calculate changes in heating and cooling degree days. These changes are then used to adjust the efficiency of thermal and photovoltaic generation. In addition, the LISFLOOD hydrological model (de Roo et al. (2001); Feyen et al. (2007)) is used to adjust the installed capacity of hydroelectric plants resulting from changes in water availability in the relevant river basins.

On the demand-side, demand for heating and cooling in the residential and service sectors is adjusted linearly according to the percentage change in heating and cooling degree days compared to the base year.

The above-mentioned supply and demand impacts are then combined in the POLES model, which estimates the resulting change in heating and cooling energy demand (ktoe) at European level.

The methodology follows a comparative static approach, which involves imposing the future climate on the energy system and economy of today, in the same way as other project sectoral studies. This allows the results for energy to be compared with those of other project sectors on a consistent basis.

Main results and findings

Under the Reference scenario, overall EU energy demand is estimated to fall by 13% compared to the control period, though it would increase by 8% in Southern Europe due to increased demand for cooling. Results for the 2°C scenario are similar, with overall demand decreasing by 7%, with a 1% increase in Southern Europe.


Dowling, 2013.
The Impact of Climate Change on the European Energy System. Manuscript.
Feyen, L., Vrugt, J., Ó Nualláin, B., van der Knijff, J., and de Roo, A., 2007.
Parameter optimization and uncertainty assessment for largescale streamflow simulation with the LISFLOOD model, J. Hydrol., 332, 276–289, doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2006.07.004.
De Roo, A., Odijk, M., Shcmuck, G., Koster, E., and Lucieer, A. (2001).
Assessing the effects of land use changes on floods in the Meuse and Oder catchments, Phys. Chem. Earth, Part B, 26, 593–599, doi:10.1016/S1464-1909(01)00054-5.
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