Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-57
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2021-57

  09 Jul 2021

09 Jul 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ESD and is expected to appear here in due course.

Climate change impacts on solar power generation and its spatial variability in Europe based on CMIP6

Xinyuan Hou1,2, Martin Wild1, Doris Sylvia Folini1, Stelios Kazadzis2, and Jan Wohland3 Xinyuan Hou et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, 8006, Switzerland
  • 2Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos/World Radiation Center, 7260, Switzerland
  • 3Institute for Environmental Decisions, ETH Zurich, 8006, Switzerland

Abstract. Solar photovoltaics (PV) plays an essential role in decarbonizing the European energy system. However, climate change affects surface solar radiation and thereby will directly influence future PV power generation. We use scenarios from the sixth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) for a mitigation (SSP1-2.6) and a fossil-fuel dependent (SSP5-8.5) pathway, to quantify climate risk for solar PV in Europe simulated by the Global Solar Energy Estimator (GSEE). We find that PV potential increases by around 5 % in the mitigation scenario, suggesting a positive feedback loop between climate change mitigation and PV potential. While increased clear-sky radiation and reduced cloud cover go hand in hand in SSP1-2.6, a decrease in clear-sky radiation is overcompensated by a decrease in cloud cover in SSP5-8.5, resulting in an increase of all-sky radiation. Moreover, we find that the seasonal cycle of PV generation changes in most places as generation grows more strongly in winter than in summer (SSP1-2.6) or increases in summer and declines in winter (SSP5-8.5). We further analyze climate change impacts on the spatial variability of PV power generation. Similar to effects anticipated for wind energy, we report an increase of the spatial correlations of daily PV production with large inter-model agreement yet relatively small amplitude, implying that PV power balancing between different regions in continental Europe will become more difficult in the future. Based on the most recent climate simulations, this research thus supports the notion that climate change will only marginally impact renewable energy potential, while changes in the spatio-temporal generation structure are to be expected and should be included in power system design.

Xinyuan Hou et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Richard Rosen, 11 Jul 2021
  • CC2: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Jan Wohland, 14 Jul 2021
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Aug 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Xinyuan Hou, 17 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Anonymous Referee #2, 11 Aug 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Xinyuan Hou, 17 Sep 2021

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Richard Rosen, 11 Jul 2021
  • CC2: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Jan Wohland, 14 Jul 2021
  • RC1: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Aug 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Xinyuan Hou, 17 Sep 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on esd-2021-57', Anonymous Referee #2, 11 Aug 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Xinyuan Hou, 17 Sep 2021

Xinyuan Hou et al.

Xinyuan Hou et al.

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Short summary
Solar photovoltaics (PV) matters for the carbon neutrality goal. We use climate scenarios to quantify climate risk for PV in Europe and find higher PV potential. The seasonal cycle of PV generation changes in most places. We find an increase in the spatial correlations of daily PV production, implying that PV power balancing through redistribution will be more difficult in the future. Thus, changes in the spatio-temporal structure of PV generation should be included in power system design.
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