The effects of climate change on power & heat plants - assessing the risks and opportunities

Jaana Keränen, Riitta Molarius, Jari Schabel

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter or book articleProfessional


    It is important for decision makers to acknowledge and consider the impacts of climate change on Nordic renewable energy resources with regards to strategies for energy production and distribution. There is a need to produce information based on risk assessments for investors through short-term studies which take into account both the impacts of changing climate on power production and the uncertainties of these impacts. Since
    the life-time of power plant investments is usually less than 40 years, there is seldom a need for a longer planning period in an economic study. Private investors also tend to focus more on the near future because of the interest rate and because of the larger uncertainty surrounding the distant future. Recognising and identifying risks associated with changes in weather patterns is an important step towards planning of new infrastructure investments and mitigating potential damage to existing power production, transmission and distribution systems.

    The goal of this study was to assess the climate associated risks and opportunities of power and heat production systems in the Nordic countries for the next 20–30 years. The increased uncertainty of the future renewable resources with respect to climate change is a key issue for the energy sector. While the companies obviously aim to minimise negative impacts, it must be remembered that it is also possible that some features of renewable resources may create new opportunities for the power plants in the future. Moreover, changes in the seasonal and geographical circumstances may affect the productivity of current power plants. Disturbances in production due to extreme events such as floods, droughts, storms, increased wave heights, etc. must also be taken into
    account. Uncertainty translates into riskier decisions at all levels within 196 Climate Change and Energy Systems
    the sector including operational and market issues, short-term responses, and investments.

    This study focused on managing the risks and opportunities at the operational level with a view to preventing adverse effects on current power and heat plants and production due to climatologic changes. The
    method being used can also be used to support decision-making about new construction projects and power and heat plants while considering their geographical situation.

    The risk and opportunity management tool is targeted at decision makers in power companies, which makes it possible to analyse the potential climate change related risks especially associated with power plants. It is intended to be used as a first step in the strategy for identifying not only potential risks due to climate change, but also the associated opportunities for power companies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationClimate Change and Energy Systems
    Subtitle of host publicationImpacts, Risks and Adaptation in the Nordic and Baltic countries
    EditorsThorsteinn Thorsteinsson, Halldór Björnsson
    Place of PublicationCopenhagen
    PublisherNordic Council of Ministers
    ISBN (Print)978-92-893-2190-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    MoE publication typeD2 Article in professional manuals or guides or professional information systems or text book material


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