Copernicus Supports Europe's Renewable Energy Goals

Renewables, such as wind and solar, will play a key role in achieving the European Green Deal targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and becoming climate-neutral by 2050. However, green energy comes with its own challenges, not least of which is the variable nature of the resource. Data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) help to assess the variability of renewable energy resources, such as wind power, with authoritative information about the past, present and potential future climate in Europe.
Norther wind farm, North Sea. Credit: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery

By Copernicus ECMWF

The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) & Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), implemented by ECMWF on behalf of the European Commission with funding from the EU.

25 Apr 2022

In the EU in 2020, renewables accounted for 22.1 % of gross final energy consumption, up from only 9.6 % in 2004, and the goal is to reach a renewable energy share of at least 32% by 2030. Wind is currently the main resource in the EU’s renewable energy basket, accounting for 36% of the total electricity generated from renewable sources in the EU in 2020.

The EU’s Fit for 55 initiative foresees the doubling of its photovoltaic and wind capacities by 2025 and tripling by 2030, saving 170 bcm of yearly gas consumption. However, wind speeds at a given location can vary significantly from year to year. For example, in its recently published flagship European State of the Climate report C3S, which is implemented by the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission, notes that parts of northwestern and central Europe experienced unusually low winds last year, with some countries seeing some of the lowest annual average wind speeds since at least 1979.

Understanding wind variability

To make the most of Europe’s wind resource, governments, energy companies, and wind farm planners and operators need to understand wind variability. C3S supports a deeper understanding of this variability with end-to-end climate reanalysis data that empower users in the wind energy sector to take action to ensure maximum wind energy output. The data, which are freely accessible in the Climate Data Store, enable users to make informed site-specific decisions for wind farms. C3S has also developed an Energy Operational Service that delivers key information for climate-related indicators relevant to the European energy sector.

Some examples of C3S wind data put to use in service of the energy sector include the Vortex project. Vortex uses climate reanalysis data from ERA5 – ECMWF’s fifth generation atmospheric reanalysis of the global climate covering the period from January 1950 to the present – to map wind resources and provide wind and location information in support of wind farm design and resource analysis, which helps to identify potential high-wind areas for wind power generation around the world.

A Vortex spin-off, ClimateScale, also uses C3S climate data and downscales ERA5 reanalysis at high resolution to provide on-demand climate change projections globally, which can be used by multiple sectors, including the wind energy industry. While the Global Wind Atlas, helps to identify potential high-wind areas for wind power generation around the world. 

Informed decision-making

Another product, which uses ERA5 wind and wave information to support wind farm developers and operators, is the ESOX tool from Lautec. ESOX allows operators to calculate, for example, how long it will take to install turbine foundations offshore, or which months are best for turbine blade repair, enabling them to make informed decisions and streamline wind farm operations.  

Businesses and governments are becoming increasingly aware of the impacts that climate variability has on wind energy production and revenues. In this context, C3S products, such as the European State of the Climate Report and ERA5 reanalysis, enable wind energy stakeholders to make informed and sustainable choices, helping to ensure that Europe makes the most of wind resources in pursuit of its green transition goals.

This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group

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