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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-48
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
24 May 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
More Homogeneous Wind Conditions Under Strong Climate Change Decrease the Potential for Inter-State Balancing of Electricity in Europe
Jan Wohland1,2, Mark Reyers3, Juliane Weber1,2, and Dirk Witthaut1,2 1Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute for Energy and Climate Research (IEK-STE), 52428 Jülich, Germany
2Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Cologne, 50937 Cologne, Germany
3Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Germany
Abstract. Limiting anthropogenic climate change requires the fast decarbonisation of the electricity system. Renewable electricity generation is determined by the weather and is hence subject to climate change. We simulate the operation of a coarse-scale fully-renewable European electricity system based on downscaled high resolution climate data from EURO-CORDEX. Following a high emission pathway (RCP8.5), we find a robust increase of backup needs in Europe until the end of the 21st century. The absolute increase of the backup needs is almost independent of potential grid expansion, leading to the paradoxical effect that relative impacts of climate change increase in a highly interconnected European system. The increase is rooted in more homogeneous wind conditions over Europe resulting in extensive parallel generation shortfalls. Our results are strengthened by comparison with a large CMIP5 ensemble using an approach based on Circulation Weather Types.

Citation: Wohland, J., Reyers, M., Weber, J., and Witthaut, D.: More Homogeneous Wind Conditions Under Strong Climate Change Decrease the Potential for Inter-State Balancing of Electricity in Europe, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-48, in review, 2017.
Jan Wohland et al.
Jan Wohland et al.
Jan Wohland et al.

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Short summary
Solar and wind energy generation are weather dependent and can not be switched on when needed. One option to obtain stable electricity generation despite this volatility is aggregation over large areas, for example Europe. We show that strong climate change impedes the integration of very high shares of renewables in Europe. This is because countries are more likely to suffer from simultaneous generation shortfall. As a consequence, local scarcity can less often be balanced by imports.
Solar and wind energy generation are weather dependent and can not be switched on when needed....
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