Human health | Forest Fire | Wind storms | Water and Floods | Energy

Climate change could potentially have a significant impact on the energy sector, through changes in meteorological variables (or parameters) to which this sector is sensitive (temperature, rainfall and wind for example). In general, energy companies are affected by weather (daily variations of atmospheric parameters) and by climate (long term variations of atmospheric parameters). According to the meteorological parameter and the nature of its change, there are several potential major impacts. An important impact concerns the demand, as much of society’s use of energy is to satisfy heating and cooling preferences.

Thus, temperature variations will have inhibiting or activating consequences on heating (winter time) or cooling (summer time) demand, frequently expressed in terms of heating/cooling degree-days (HDD/CDD) - quantitative indices designed to reflect the demand for energy needed to heat or cool a home or business (see illustration).

Water resources (water scarcity, river flow changes, earlier snow melting and droughts for example) will have impacts on energy production, in terms of hydraulic power and also of cooling for power stations. Also, potential changes in intensity and frequency of extreme events (heat waves and storms for example) will affect infrastructure and the functioning of systems and networks.

Lastly, climate change impacts are numerous and diverse, and they concern energy production, demand, distribution and transportation. Climate change and some impacts are already observed, further changes will occur in the future. Thus, within the energy sector adaptation to climate change will be necessary.

Changes in days requiring cooling

For more information on changes in energy demand in the Mediterranean see ENSEMBLES newsletter Issue 2