The European Environment Agency (EEA) has recently published a report that assesses adaptation needs and opportunities in the current and future energy system in Europe. This report gives an overview of the current energy system in Europe, it explores future energy scenarios and assesses their climate-related risks. It also reviews adaptation-related activities by the European Union, national governments, international organisations and other public and private actors. Furthermore, it reflects how public policies can support adaptation by public and private actors in the energy system. Finally, the report presents various adaptation case studies in the energy system. This presentation summarizes the key findings of this EEA report.
Europe aims to decarbonize its energy system while ensuring a safe and affordable energy supply for all. This clean energy transition implies, among others, a much greater role for renewable energy sources and for electricity as an energy carrier. It involves substantial investments in long-lived infrastructure. A changing climate affects hydropower, thermal, wind and solar power generation. Electricity networks and other infrastructure will also be affected, as patterns of demand change and reliability of supply is threatened by the impacts of extreme weather events. It is necessary to ensure that the investments into the clean energy system are also climate-resilient.
This EEA report is based on a review of relevant literature from academic sources, European and international institutions, an analysis of policy documents and various forms of stakeholder interaction. The development of the report was supported by an external stakeholder group that includes representatives of EU institutions, national governments, international organisations, sector associations, infrastructure providers and academic experts. The report has undergone external review.
Mainstreaming climate change considerations into EU and national sector policies on energy has increased substantially in recent years. Most European countries have performed climate change vulnerability assessments covering the energy system, and their national adaptation strategies or plans address the energy system. However, the level of detail and specificity varies substantially. European and international organisations are supporting building climate resilience in the energy system among others through guidelines and sharing good practice examples. There is also substantial evidence for implementing adaptation actions by infrastructure providers in the energy sector, in particular by power companies and electricity network providers. However, a full overview is not possible because few European countries have reporting requirements on climate change risks and actions for critical infrastructure providers in the energy system.
Climate change impacts increasingly affect energy production, transmission and transport, and demand. The most suitable adaptation actions in a particular region depend on the physical and management structure of the energy system and the specific climate change impacts it is exposed to. There are good examples how national policies have triggered or facilitated adaptation actions by private infrastructure providers. Recent policy developments related to the EU Energy Union provide further opportunities for addressing the challenges of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the energy system jointly, by facilitating and streamlining relevant planning and reporting processes.