Climate Change and Energy Systems

Impacts, Risks and Adaptation in the Nordic and Baltic countries

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Renewable energy sources contribute 16% of the global energy consumption and most nations are working to increase the share of renewables in their total energy budget, to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel sources. Most Nordic and Baltic countries have already surpassed the target set for EU countries by 2020, to produce 20% of energy use from renewables like hydropower, solar energy, wind power, bio-energy, ocean power and geothermal energy. This publication presents results from a comprehensive research project that investigated the effects of projected future climate change on hydropower, wind power and bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic countries, with focus on the period 2020-2050. The research group investigated historical climate, runoff and forest growth data and produced climate scenarios for the region based on global circulation models. The scenarios were used as input in models forecasting changes in glacial meltwater production, basin-wide runoff, mean wind strength, extreme storm and flooding events and energy biomass production. Although the uncertainty in modelling results translates into increased risks for decision-making within the energy sector, the projected climate change is predicted to have a largely positive impact on energy production levels in the region, and energy systems modelling projects increased export of energy to continental Europe by 2020.



Wind power

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).


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