The sun is shining; it’s cloudy or windy: How much electricity wind and solar plants generate depends on the weather. Since the weather cannot be planned but is volatile, electricity generation from renewable energies also fluctuates. For power producers, that means more uncertainty in electricity markets – making it harder to balance supply and demand at all times.
Reliable weather forecasts help grid operators respond better to fluctuating feed-in. Fluctuating power production affects both the day-ahead and intraday markets on power exchanges and the downstream markets for balancing energy.
The same applies to the climate: If the environment changes in the long term, the electricity system must also adapt, for example, to more frequent extreme situations such as droughts or storms. A long lull with low wind speeds also affects electricity generation from renewables – more reserve capacity is needed. The same applies to hydropower plants when there is less rain.
Climate change is also altering conventional power plants’ production: due to recent years’ dry summers, rivers carried less water but warmer than average. Thermal and nuclear power plants had to reduce their output because cooling water from rivers was only available in limited quantities.
On the demand side, higher temperatures are changing the demand for electricity: Less heating in winter, but more cooling in summer. Established load profiles may shift as a result.
EWI is researching the transition from carbon-based energy consumption to renewable energy. Together with the Hans Ertel Center for Weather Research, it estimates renewable energy resources under changing climatic conditions. The two partners are also forecasting solar and wind power availability at different temporal and spatial scales (hours to decades, local to continental).
EWI analyzes across sectors how the supply costs for electricity, heat, and (synthetic) fuels look like in the short and long term in the European system as a whole. Interdependencies, as well as political, regulatory and technological framework conditions, are taken into account. EWI’s proprietary model DIMENSION maps numerous renewable energy regions within the EU clustered by weather conditions. Also, the institute creates scenarios with a high market share of renewable energy.
Hydrogen is produced in electrolyzers. In these particular plants, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity. For possible locations for electrolyzers also outside the EU, the respective weather conditions are decisive. The more electricity from renewable sources generated at a site, the lower the production costs of hydrogen. EWI is investigating, for example, how the costs of producing and transporting hydrogen differ at different locations.