Characterizing the winter meteorological drivers of the European electricity system using targeted circulation types

Hannah C. Bloomfield, David J. Brayshaw, Andrew J. Charlton‐Perez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Renewable electricity is a key enabling step in the decarbonization of energy. Europe is at the forefront of renewable deployment and this has dramatically increased the weather sensitivity of the continent's power systems. Despite the importance of weather to energy systems, and widespread interest from both academia and industry, the meteorological drivers of European power systems remain difficult to identify and are poorly understood. The present study presents a new and generally applicable approach, targeted circulation types (TCTs). In contrast to standard meteorological weather-regime or circulation-typing schemes, TCTs convolve the weather sensitivity of an impacted system of interest (in this case, the electricity system) with the intrinsic structures of the atmospheric circulation to identify its meteorological drivers. A new 38 year reconstruction of daily electricity demand and renewable supply across Europe is used to identify the winter large-scale circulation patterns of most interest to the European electricity grid. TCTs provide greater explanatory power for power system variability and extremes compared with standard meteorological typing. Two new pairs of atmospheric patterns are highlighted, both of which have marked and extensive impacts on the European power system. The first pair resembles the meridional surface pressure dipole of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), but shifted eastward into Europe and noticeably strengthened, while the second pair is weaker and corresponds to surface pressure anomalies over Central Southern and Eastern Europe. While these gross qualitative patterns are robust features of the present European power systems, the detailed circulation structures are strongly affected by the amount and location of renewables installed.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalMeteorological Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2019


  • weather regime
  • demand
  • wind power
  • solar power
  • reanalysis

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