The climate change measured by the increase in temperatures has two contradictory effects on energy consumption: it leads to a drop in heating requirements on the one hand, and on the other, it leads to an increase in demand linked to air conditioning. The increase in temperatures could, at horizon 2100, lead to a drop of over 3% in national energy consumption compared to the current situation. The increase in air conditioning devices will cause an increase in demand peaks in the summer period, which will complicate electricity network management (IPCC scenarios A2 and B2; Socioeconomic scenario: current economy) (11).
At regional level, situations will be contrasting: hot regions could see their annual consumption increase, while cooler regions will see it reduce (11).
The drop in precipitation modelled in the main catchment basins equipped with hydroelectric power plants is projected to result in an average drop of around 15% of production potential. Even though the current models do not allow very precise modelling, this trend will highly complicate hydroelectric power management. In very hot periods, these resources are nevertheless of basic value because they enable the rapid cushioning of the demand during peaks in consumption (11).
Wind power in France
Wind share of total electricity consumption in France was 2.3% by the end of 2010. Overall in the EU, in a normal wind year, installed wind capacity at the end of 2010 meets 5.3% of the EU’s electricity needs (10).
The current key renewable energy sources in Europe are hydropower (19.8% of electricity generated) and wind. By the 2070s, hydropower potential for the whole of Europe is expected to decline by 6%, translated into a 20 to 50% decrease around the Mediterranean, a 15 to 30% increase in northern and eastern Europe and a stable hydropower pattern for western and central Europe (1,3,4). In areas with increased precipitation and runoff, dam safety may become a problem due to more frequent and intensive flooding events (5).
It has become apparent during recent heat waves and drought periods that electricity generation in thermal power plants may be affected by increases in water temperature and water scarcity. In the case of higher water temperatures the discharge of warm cooling water into the river may be restricted if limit values for temperature are exceeded. Electricity production has already had to be reduced in various locations in Europe during very warm summers (e.g. 2003, 2005 and 2006) (5,8).
Extreme heat waves can pose a serious threat to uninterrupted electricity supplies, mainly because cooling air may be too warm and cooling water may be both scarce and too warm (9).
Climate change will impact thermoelectric power production in Europe through a combination of increased water temperatures and reduced river flow, especially during summer. In particular, thermoelectric power plants in southern and south-eastern Europe will be affected by climate change. Using a physically based hydrological and water temperature modelling framework in combination with an electricity production model, a summer average decrease in capacity of power plants of 6.3–19% in Europe was shown for 2031–2060 compared with 1971-2000, depending on cooling system type and climate scenario (SRES B1 and A2) (13).
Overall, a decrease in low flows (10th percentile of daily distribution) for Europe (except Scandinavia) is projected with an average decrease of 13-15% for 2031–2060 and 16-23% for 2071-2100,compared with 1971-2000. Increases in mean summer (21 June - 20 September) water temperatures are projected of 0.8-1.0°C for 2031–2060 and 1.4-2.3°C for 2071-2100, compared with 1971-2000. Projected water temperature increases are highest in the south-western and south-eastern parts of Europe (13).
By the 22nd century, land area devoted to biofuels may increase by a factor of two to three in all parts of Europe (2).
It may become more challenging to meet energy demands during peak times due to more frequent heat waves and drought conditions (1). Strong distributional patterns are expected across Europe — with rising cooling (electricity) demand in summer in southern Europe, compared with reduced heating (energy) demand in winter in northern Europe (7).
Climate change impacts on electricity markets in Western Europe
The expected climate changes in the 21st century are likely to have a small impact on electricity prices and production for the energy markets of Western Europe. This has been estimated by modelling three climatic effects (12):
- changes in demand for electricity due to changes in the need for heating and cooling,
- changes in supply of hydropower due to changes in precipitation and temperature, and
- changes in thermal power supply due to warmer cooling water and therefore lower plant efficiency.
According to the model results each of these three partial effects changes the average electricity producer price by less than 2%, while the net effect is an increase in the average producer price of only 1%. Similarly, the partial effects on total electricity production are small, and the net effect is a decrease of 4%.
The greatest effects of climate change are found for those Nordic countries with a large market share for reservoir hydro. In these countries total annual production increases by 8%, reflecting an expected increase in inflow of water. A substantial part of the increase in Nordic production is exported; climate change doubles net exports of electricity from the Nordic countries, while the optimal reservoir capacity is radically reduced (12).
In the national strategy of France the following adaptation measures are recommended (11):
- Improve energy plant cooling processes
- Make energy plants more resistant to climatic extremes
- Generalise the group management systems
- Refine the crisis management procedures
- Identify the structures sensitive to a rise in sea level
- Research and development into more energy-efficient cooling processes
- Development of more energy-efficient town planning and buildings, particularly in terms of cooling
Considering the projected decreases in cooling-water availability during summer in combination with the long design life of power plant infrastructure, adaptation options should be included in today's planning and strategies to meet the growing electricity demand in the 21st century (13).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for France.
- Lehner et al. (2005), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Metzger et al. (2004), in: Alcamo et al. (2007)
- Kirkinen et al. (2005), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Veijalainen and Vehviläinen (2006); Andréasson et al. (2006), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Rothstein et al. (2006), in: Anderson (ed.) (2007)
- Alcamo et al., 2007
- EEA, JRC and WHO (2008)
- Behrens et al. (2010)
- European Wind Energy Association (2011)
- ONERC (2007/2009)
- Golombek et al. (2012)
- Van Vliet et al. (2012)