Climate change impacting energy output of sources, networks

There has been much debate of late on the ability of Greece’s grid to operate up to standard amid extreme conditions, the talk prompted by last month’s deadly flash floods in the country’s northern region Halkidiki, as well as the current heatwave throughout the country.

Rising air and water temperatures impact both conventional and nuclear energy production, Europe’s biggest energy source, in a number of ways. Water temperatures need to be at optimal levels for nuclear stations to function properly. Operations at nuclear energy facilities in France have needed to be interrupted this year, as well as in the past, as a result of unsuitable water temperatures.

High air temperatures impact, for various reasons, the output levels of gas and fuel-fired power stations, renewable energy sources, as well as nuclear energy facilities, while coal and biomass units are less affected.

Natural gas-fired power station production levels drop by 0.1 percent for every one-degree Celsius increase in air temperature. The production drop is greater for nuclear units, reaching 0.5 percent. A further one-percent production drop is caused by every 5-degree Celsius increase in water temperature.

Hydropower facilities are affected as a result of greater evaporation and lower water levels.

Solar energy systems also produce less amid extremely hot temperatures, the drop estimated at between 0.4 and 0.5 percent for every one degree Celsius increase in temperature, according to an older study.

Though alternative sources are brought into action to ensure energy sufficiency when certain electricity production units are under-performing, networks, also susceptible to heatwaves, do not have such flexibility.

Higher temperatures affect the production levels of transformers and cables,  overland and underground. Network yield losses increase by one percent for every three-degree Celsius rise in temperature. The increased threat of fires, as was experienced in the worst possible way in California last year, only makes matters worse.

Energy system adjustments are urgently needed in various parts of the world, including Greece, as grids were shaped under certain assumptions and factors that reflect past conditions, not more recent developments, namely global warming and climate change.

Over the past decade or so, certain countries, including France, have made energy system revisions and implemented these changes. However, the speed at which the climate has destabilized may require follow-up revisions.

 

 

All eyes on French energy system as Europe braces for colder weather

Europe’s energy sector enters a crucial period today and for the next few days as a result of the cold winter weather that has been forecast combined with maintenance and operational issues troubling France’s nuclear power facilities, which could lead to energy supply shortages.

Temperatures in Greece and other parts of Europe are forecast to drop by as much as 10 degrees Celsius this week, which will sharply increase energy demand for heating.

Weather conditions are not expected to be as extreme as they were last winter. Authorities have assured necessary measures have already been taken to a large degree.

Even so, the ongoing situation in France is worrisome. Throughout 2017, the country’s output at nuclear power stations has registered the lowest levels since the millennium. Nuclear power station capacity in France yesterday managed to climb to a level of 52 gigawatts.

As reported by Platts, the French power utility EDF has declared five units will resume production this week but, even so, was forced, once again, to reduce its output forecasts as a result of delayed returns to the grid of units undergoing maintenance work.

EDF’s nuclear power stations have generated electricity at an average level of 50 gigawatts this month, while, for the fourth quarter, output has fallen 14 gigawatts short of forecasts, a quantity equivalent to 28 LNG shipments.

Given the magnitude of France’s electricity production, as well as last year’s domino effect of energy shortages experienced by a series of European countries, stemming from problems at French nuclear power stations, all eyes are now on France.