Seminar on Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on Highly to Fully Renewable Power Systems

13 Nov 2017 - 11:45



Avoiding dangerous climate change necessitates the decarbonization of electricity systems within the next decades. This decarbonization is dominantly based on an increased exploitation of variable renewable electricity sources such as wind and solar power in Europe. Both have shown steep learning curves and have become, or are about to become, cost competitive with conventional power generation. However, the intermittency and variability of renewable generation pose challenges to grid integration.

In the first part of the presentation, we focus on economic impacts of this intermittency in the current German system. We show that natural wind variability triggers alterations in the re-dispatch costs at the order of hundreds of million Euros per year. These alterations are a normal feature of the current German power system and should be understood and communicated as such.

In the second part of the presentation, we explore the vulnerability of a hypothetical fully-renewable European power system to strong climate change. In general, benefits arise from connecting power grids over large areas as excess electricity in one region can be transmitted to regions with generation shortfall. Based on EUROCORDEX and CMIP5 climate data, we report that this international balancing is partly impeded by more homogeneous wind conditions over Europe under strong climate change. The magnitude of the effect is, however, limited to 7 per cent and hence does not question the feasibility of a a fully-renewable power system in general. 


Jan Wohland is a PhD student at Forschungszentrum Jülich and the University of Cologne in Germany. His work focuses on the interface between energy and climate research. He holds a master in climate physics from the University of Potsdam (with distinction) and a bachelor in Physics and Mathematics from Humboldt University Berlin. Jan wrote his master and bachelor thesis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. In 2016, Jan spent three months as a visiting student at the Climate System Analysis Group at UCT where he investigated climate information websites. Jan is a member of the NGO Solar Energy for Western Africa and lived 4 months in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 



Wohland, J., Reyers, M., Märker, C., and Witthaut, D.: Natural wind variability triggered drop in German redispatch volume and costs from 2015 to 2016, under review for PLOSOne, 2017.

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.,, accepted, 2017.

Weber, J., Wohland, J., Reyers, M. et al.: Impact of climate change on backup energy and storage needs in wind-dominated power systems in Europe, submitted to PLOSOne, 2017.