Quantifying the increasing sensitivity of power systems to climate variability

H C Bloomfield, D J Brayshaw, L C Shaffrey, P J Coker, H E Thornton

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

82 Citations (Scopus)


Large quantities of weather-dependent renewable energy generation are expected in power systems under climate change mitigation policies, yet little attention has been given to the impact of long term climate variability. By combining state-of-the-art multi-decadal meteorological records with a parsimonious representation of a power system, this study characterises the impact of year-to-year climate variability on multiple aspects of the power system of Great Britain (including coal, gas and nuclear generation), demonstrating why multi-decadal approaches are necessary. All aspects of the example system are impacted by inter-annual climate variability, with the impacts being most pronounced for baseload generation. The impacts of inter-annual climate variability increase in a 2025 wind-power scenario, with a 4-fold increase in the inter-annual range of operating hours for baseload such as nuclear. The impacts on peak load and peaking-plant are comparably small. Less than 10 years of power supply and demand data are shown to be insufficient for providing robust power system planning guidance. This suggests renewable integration studies—widely used in policy, investment and system design—should adopt a more robust approach to climate characterisation.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Article number124025
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2016


  • demand
  • power systems
  • wind power
  • climate variability

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