EU Science Hub

The Impact of Climate Change on the European Energy System

Climate change can affect the economy via many different channels in many different sectors. Most studies investigating the impact of climate change on the energy system have concentrated on the impact of changes in heating and cooling demand, but there are many energy sector impacts that remain unanalysed. The POLES global energy model has been modified to widen the coverage of climate change impacts on the European energy system. The impacts considered are changes in heating and cooling demand in the residential sector, changes in the efficiency of thermal power plants, and changes in hydro, wind (both on- and off-shore) and solar PV electricity output. Results of the impacts of six scenarios on the European energy system are presented, and finally the implications for European energy security and energy imports are presented. There are several main findings that can be concluded from the analysis: That the demand side impacts (heating and cooling in the residential sector) are larger than supply side impacts; that power generation from fossil-fuel and nuclear sources decreases and renewable energy increased; and impacts are larger in Southern Europe than in Northern Europe. Whilst the impacts captured in this analysis go further than the current literature, there remains many more impacts that can not currently be captured due to a variety of issues including: lack of climate data, difficulties translating climate data into energy-system-relevant data, lack of detail in energy system models where climate impacts act. This paper does not attempt to provide an exhaustive analysis of climate change impacts in the energy sector, it is rather another step towards an increasing coverage of possible impacts.