Power through resilience of energy systems: energy crises, trends and climate change

  • Finished
  • Started: Mar 2011
  • Ended: Mar 2013


DI Ricki Hirner
Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Lukas Kranzl
Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Andreas Müller
Mag. Dr. Gerhard Totschnig

Project description


The current energy system is a major driver of climate change. At the same time, the energy system itself is affected by climate change. Some elements of energy supply will change the characteristics of its availability (e.g. hydro power) and a modification in energy demand will occur (e.g. heating and cooling). Therefore, simul-taneous mitigation and adaptation has to take place. The core objective of PRESENCE was to derive path-ways how to increase the resilience of energy systems in the view of climate change, possible trends and energy crises as well as the transformation of our energy system into a low- carbon future for the Austrian case.

The analysis included the following steps:

  • (1) quantify the impact of climate change on energy systems,
  • (2) quantify the impact of trends and unexpected developments on energy systems,
  • (3) investigate adaptation measures and analyse the impact of transition paths of the energy system.

The hydrological modelling shows that seasonal changes are very similar in all considered climate change scenarios: summer runoff decreasing, winter runoff increasing. Specific effects of hydrological changes for hydropower production were investigated exemplarily for selected alpine reservoirs and run-of-river power plants. Regarding the impact on heating and cooling, a major finding is that the impact of climate change is much lower than the leverage of energy policy framework conditions. Although space cooling might not be a more issue from an annual energy balance point-of-view, it may have a major impact on electricity peaks and the design-factor of electricity grids, if no adoption measures are undertaken. The results of the energy system modelling clearly shows that energy efficiency and a higher share of renewable energy can significantly contribute to increasing the energy systems resilience: PV generation covers cooling load to some extent. The analysis of extreme periods (based on the criterion of residual loads) reveals, that for most climate scenarios periods with high residual loads in winter will remain in a very similar range as for historic periods. However, in all climate scenarios such periods during summer will significantly increase until 2050-2080 if not significant efforts are taken to reduce cooling loads.

The measures which we identified for increasing the resilience in the view of climate change and other trends focus on:

  • (1) Reduction of overall energy demand;
  • (2) reduction of cooling loads by implementing building related measures like shading;
  • (3) reduction of cooling loads by reducing internal loads through more efficient electric appliances;
  • (4) increase PV generation to reduce dependencies of international resource markets and to provide a positive contribution in periods of high cooling demand; make sure that PV is either situated on-site or nearby the buildings with high cooling loads or / and make sure that the capacity of electricity transmission lines copes with the high loads;
  • (5) implement measures for shifting of peak loads on the demand side;
  • (6) carry out a regular assessment of climate change impact on energy systems to prepare long-term investments.

The energy system can cope with climate change at very moderate costs, if corresponding measures are taken in time. However, due to the inertia of the system and long lead times for investments early actions are required. If no adaptation takes place, a loss of reliability in the electricity supply is very likely.



Last updated: 17 Aug 2011