Table of contents

3. Climate change impacts on the European energy system

The evidence for the anthropogenic influence on the global climate system is unequivocal. Anthropogenic climate change has already led to substantial changes in the average and extremes of many climate variables. Further climate change is inevitable, but the magnitude and pace depends on the success of global climate mitigation policies. Past and future changes in climate are impacting many aspects of human societies, including the energy system (IPCC, 2014b).

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This chapter is structured as follows. Section 3.1 gives an overview of important changes in the climate system for which observations and projections are available across Europe. Section 3.2 reviews available assessments of climate change impacts on and adaptation needs of the European energy system. The three sections thereafter look at those climate change impacts on the energy system that have been identified as particularly important in pertinent European and national-level assessments: changing water availability for power production (Section 3.3), risks for energy infrastructure from sea level rise and extreme climate events (Section 3.4) and climate-related changes in energy demand (Section 3.5). Section 3.6 addresses further climate change impacts on the energy system that are either less important at the European scale or more speculative (or both). The concluding Section 3.7 summarizes climate-related challenges (and opportunities) for the energy system.

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