Impact of Extreme Weather on Energy in Europe

A recent post discussed the impact that climate change would have on energy production and use in the United States. A recent European study has profiled a nearly identical prediction for the future costs of energy in Europe.

An article that was recently published in Climate Progress – How Water Scarcity From Climate Change Could Jack Up Europe’s Power Prices – reinforced just how tightly connected we all are on this small, rocky planet. It is no longer a question of “we” and “them” of “here” and “there” but “how” and “why”. How do our individual actions as humans and countries impact the humans and countries on every other continent around the globe? Why do we continue to think myopically about the extent of the global impact of our actions?

The energy issues discussed for the US are no different than those projected for Europe. I would guess that it also not a stretch to suggest that if similar studies were performed for other countries stressed with water issues and population, the results would also be the same.

The Abstract for the study – Water Constraints on European Power Supply Under Climate Change: Impacts on Electricity Prices  from the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis is worth digesting. Its findings are simple and straightforward:

“Recent warm, dry summers showed the vulnerability of the European power sector to low water availability and high river temperatures. Climate change is likely to impact electricity supply, in terms of both water availability for hydropower generation and cooling water usage for thermoelectric power production. Here, we show the impacts of climate change and changes in water availability and water temperature on European electricity production and prices.

Climate change threatens to reduce river flows, aquifers, and other sources of fresh water thanks to melting glaciers and less reliable rainfall. As a result, the study found a decrease in river flow of 13 to 15 percent for Southern Europe in the 2031-2060 time period (relative to 1971-2000) while places like Spain, Italy and Greece dropped as much as 20 percent. That was offset by an increase of 3 to 5 percent in river flow for Northern Europe.”

The good news – if there is any from this and other studies, is that we are not alone. Our actions are cumulative and synchronized to moving in the same direction. If we are not happy with the direction these actions are heading, then we must take appropriate and purposeful actions to reverse the trend.

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