Table of Contents

  • The project Climate and Energy Systems: Risks, Potential and Adaptation (CES), was one of 16 research projects selected to form part of Nordic Energy Research’s 2007–2010 strategy and action plan. Involving nearly 100 scientists at 33 institutions in all Nordic and Baltic countries, the CES project contributed to NER’s purpose of adding Nordic value to national research programs and activities within the energy sector. The main goal of the project was to study the impacts of projected climate change on renewable energy sources in the Nordic and Baltic region up to 2050 and assess the development of the Nordic electricity system until 2020.

  • This report summarises results from the recently completed research project Climate and Energy Systems (CES), which delivered a new assessment of the future development of renewable energy resources in the Nordic and Baltic Regions. The project focused on climate impacts within the energy sector, addressing both the positive aspects as well as the increased risks associated with expected climate change up to the mid-21st century. Main results produced by CES working groups are briefly summarised in this chapter.

  • The Nordic project Climate and Energy Systems (CES) was initiated in 2007 with the aim of studying the impacts of projected climate change on the development of renewable energy systems in the Nordic region up to the mid-21st century. Special focus has been on the potential production and the future safety of the production systems as well as on uncertainties. The key objectives of the project are summarized below:

  • The burning of non-renewable fossil fuels and the resulting emissions of greenhouse gases is one of the most pressing environmental issues facing the world today. The buildup of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and various industrial gases, changes the radiative balance of the atmosphere and is believed to be the main cause of the 0.74°C rise in mean atmospheric temperature during the 100-year period 1906–2005. Rising surface temperatures lead to changes in precipitation, cloud cover and wind patterns and affect the global hydrological cycle. Enhanced melting of glaciers and ice caps has been observed on all continents, leading to rising sea levels, and impacts on marine and terrestrial ecosystems are already substantial (IPCC, 2007).

  • Climate scenarios from climate models lay the foundation for climate impact studies. In relatively small areas, like the Nordic and Baltic region, coarse-resolution global climate models (GCMs) fail to resolve important aspects of the regional climate. Downscaling techniques, including dynamical and statistical downscaling, can be used to arrive at a higher horizontal resolution. Here, in section 3.2, we present a number of climate scenarios for the Nordic and Baltic region produced by regional climate models (RCMs) run within the CES project in a joint effort with the European FP6-project ENSEMBLES (van der Linden and Mitchell, 2009). The large number of RCM-simulations generated in these two projects, forced by a range of GCMs, is unprecedented. However, even if the ensemble of RCM simulations is relatively large, it still covers only a part of the total uncertainty related to future climate change. Therefore, in section 3.3, we put the RCM scenarios in a wider context by comparing them to the output of a large number of GCM simulations. In particular, it is described how the regional scale information from the CES/ENSEMBLES RCMs can be added to the probabilistic climate change projections from the larger ensemble of GCMs. The RCM simulations described in section 3.2 and used in section 3.3 are undertaken at 25 km horizontal resolution. Even if this is state-of-the-art for today’s large RCM ensembles, it may still not be sufficient for detailed impact studies at local scales. In section 3.4, we present two examples of further increasing the horizontal resolution: (1) by dynamical downscaling to 3 km in a few smaller areas in the Nordic domain, and (2) by statistical downscaling to 1 km horizontal resolution for Norway. In addition to the work reported on in sections 3.2–3.4 a number of other studies have been undertaken in the Climate Scenario group, these are briefly described in section 3.5 before concluding remarks are given in section 3.6.

  • Climate change projections for the Nordic and Baltic Regions indicate a warmer and wetter future climate, together with a likely increase in the occurrence of extremes. Given that global temperature trends in recent years show some consistency with projections for the future, the question arises as to whether or not there also exists evidence of climate change in historical data at regional or local scales. A main objective of the statistical analysis group within the Climate and Energy Systems project has been to study patterns of change in historical data, with a particular emphasis on hydro-climatological variables of relevance to the renewable energy sector. In some cases, annual and seasonal anomalies have been considered, whilst in other work the focus has been on extreme events. Work on identifying connections between large-scale atmospheric processes and local phenomena has also been undertaken using, for example, weather type classifications and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index.

  • Changes in glacier mass balance and consequent changes in glacier margins and land-ice volumes are among the most important consequences of future climate change in Iceland, Greenland and some glaciated watersheds in Scandinavia. Global sea level rise, observed since the beginning of the 20th century, is to a large extent caused by an increased flux of meltwater and icebergs from glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets. The increased flux of meltwater from land-ice has, apart from rising sea levels, potential global effects through the global ocean thermohaline circulation. It has also local effects on river and groundwater hydrology of watersheds adjacent to the glacier margins, with societal implications for many inhabited areas.

  • The work of the Hydropower-Hydrology group of CES has focused on hydropower production and dam safety studies based on ensembles of up-todate regional climate scenarios. The model interface between climate models and hydrological models has been improved and uncertainties have been explored. An improved methodology to cope with impacts on lake and river regulation in a changing climate has also been studied, in particular for large lakes. Finally, a comparison of Nordic design flood standards under today’s and future climate conditions has been carried out.

  • Despite the economic crisis in recent years causing a slump in the renewable energy sector in the last quarter of 2008 and throughout 2009 due to a lack of investment capital, wind energy continued its growth. There was a 35% increase in total installed wind energy capacity in 2009, and the average growth during the last five years is 36% (BTM Consult, 2010). The strongest growth rates in 2009 were seen in firstly China and secondly in the USA, with China more than doubling its installed capacity in 2009, advancing to a second place in cumulative installed capacity after the USA. For the second year running, more wind power was installed than any other power generating technology, accounting for 39% of total new electricity-generating installations. In terms of CO2 emission, Europe’s installed wind energy in 2009 helped avoid emission of 106 million t of CO2 per year, equivalent to removing 25% of all cars in the EU off the roads (EWEA, 2010).

  • The EU is committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and also raise the share of renewable energies (including biofuels) to 20% by 2020 (EC, 2008), which will most likely increase the utilisation of various sources of bioenergy including forest biofuels (energy biomass). This policy will affect energy production in the Nordic and Baltic countries and as an example, Finland has already taken important steps to promote and increase the share of energy biomass. The Finnish “National Forest Programme 2015” aims to increase the use of energy biomass from 3.4 million m3 in 2006 to 8–12 million m3 by 2015 (Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 2008) and a recent “National Climate and Energy Strategy” (2008) approved by the Finnish Government aims to increase the share of renewable energy to 38% by 2020, in line with the level proposed by the EC.

  • The objective of this study is to identify and quantify changes in generation of and demand for electricity in the Nordic region as a result of changing climatic conditions. In the analysis, we simulate the operation of a given electricity system using present and predicted cl imate data. Main focus is on the NordPool market, i.e. the single financial energy market for Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The situation in Iceland is discussed separately in Chapter 10. The results show how generation, demand, and transmission characteristics, for a fixed system configuration, respond to expected changes in temperatures and inflow to hydropower reservoirs. The present climate is represented by observed weekly inflow, temperature and wind speed for the period 1961–1990. The future climate is represented by model generated inflow and temperature for the period 2021–2050, from the models “DMI-HIRHAM-Echam5” and “met.no-HIRHAM-HadCM3” (from now on referred to as Echam and Hadam), using the emission scenario “A1B” defined by IPCC (Nakićenović and Swart, 2000). The system model represents the electricity system in 2020, and is based on forecasts of production – and transmission capacities, electricity demand, input fuel costs, and CO2-quota prices.

  • All of the largest hydroelectric power stations in Iceland are fed by glacial rivers. Over the last few decades some changes have been observed in both the volume and the seasonal distribution of river flows and further changes are expected in future climate. These changes will have impacts on the utilization and operation of existing power stations and should also be taken into account in the design of new ones. In order to be prepared for these changes, Landsvirkjun (The National Power Company) has analyzed the operation of its hydroelectric system with different expected “stationary” flow scenarios in the period 2010 to 2050.

  • It is important for decision makers to acknowledge and consider the impacts of climate change on Nordic renewable energy resources with regards to strategies for energy production and distribution. There is a need to produce information based on risk assessments for investors through short-term studies which take into account both the impacts of changing climate on power production and the uncertainties of these impacts. Since the life-time of power plant investments is usually less than 40 years, there is seldom a need for a longer planning period in an economic study. Private investors also tend to focus more on the near future because of the interest rate and because of the larger uncertainty surrounding the distant future. Recognising and identifying risks associated with changes in weather patterns is an important step towards planning of new infrastructure investments and mitigating potential damage to existing power production, transmission and distribution systems.

  • The coverage in this section is partly based on a Nordic report written by Rummukainen et al. (2010), who reviewed advances in studies of the physical climate system since the publication of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, AR4 (IPCC, 2007). Updates based on data and information presented on the webpages of key climate data centers are included as well.

  • Scientists who contributed to the material published in this book are listed below. Information on additional contributors to the CES project can be found on the CES webpage at http://en.vedur.is/ces and in Pikkarainen (2010) – see reference list at the end of Chapter 1.