Does climate change threaten the future of the PV sector in Europe ?

Abstract : The bet on renewable energies is a key aspect of the mitigation strategies aimed at abating climate change, in which Europe is a world leader. In particular, PV power has been receiving large investments and its future deployment is expected to be spectacular, specially in southern countries. However, development plans remain widely blind to the potential impacts of a hereafter changed climate on renewable energy resources. In order to shed light on this issue, this study makes use of a new generation multimodel and multi-scenario ensemble of high-resolution climate simulations spanning up to the end of this century to assess changes in both PV power generation potential (PVpot) and actual production (PVprod) considering a future scenario with a high penetration of PV installations. Results show that the projected increase in the surface air temperature adversely affects the projections for PVpot, as it acts to diminish the efficiency of the PV cells. Thus, while surface solar radiation is projected to slightly increase in southern regions, PVpot is not. In the most extreme scenario considered (RCP8.5), PVpot would diminish in the range 5-15% (from South to North within Europe) by the end of this century according to the ensemble mean. In terms of production, significant changes are not expected southward but for a plausible reduction of the daily variability of the PVprod series, which would indeed be beneficial. However, further north, worse projections, with the Scandinavian region holding robust reductions in the mean production (about -10% under the RCP8.5) and uncertain projections regarding its future variability. In any case, all signals depict limited impacts indicating that climate change does not seem to pose a serious risk for the PV sector in Europe.
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Sandra Jerez, Isabelle Tobin, Robert Vautard, J.P. Montavez, Françoise Thais, et al.. Does climate change threaten the future of the PV sector in Europe ?. International scientific conference "Our common future under climate change", Jul 2015, Paris, France. pp.449-450. ⟨ineris-01852984⟩

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