More homogeneous wind conditions under strong climate change decrease the potential for inter-state balancing of electricity in Europe
Limiting anthropogenic climate change requires the fast decarbonization of the electricity system. Renewable electricity generation is determined by the weather and is hence subject to climate change. We simulate the operation of a coarse-scale fully renewable European electricity system based on downscaled high-resolution climate data from EURO-CORDEX. Following a high-emission pathway (RCP8.5), we find a robust but modest increase (up to 7 %) of backup energy in Europe through the end of the 21st century. The absolute increase in the backup energy is almost independent of potential grid expansion, leading to the paradoxical effect that relative impacts of climate change increase in a highly interconnected European system. The increase is rooted in more homogeneous wind conditions over Europe resulting in intensified simultaneous generation shortfalls. Individual country contributions to European generation shortfall increase by up to 9 TWh yr −1, reflecting an increase of up to 4 %. Our results are strengthened by comparison with a large CMIP5 ensemble using an approach based on circulation weather types.