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Impacts of extreme events on Italian electric system in the future climate

pubblicazioni - Poster

Impacts of extreme events on Italian electric system in the future climate

Lo scopo di questo lavoro è di valutare gli impatti dei potenziali cambiamenti nelle precipitazioni e negli estremi di temperatura sulla penisola italiana nel sistema elettro-energetico.

The intensification of extreme weather events (strong winds, thunderstorms and snowstorms) represent serious risks for human activities and infrastructures. In particular hazards such as floods and droughts are considered one of the main challenges of the 21st century because of their significant societal and economic implications. Increased temperatures may have adverse effects on electricity generation, transmission and distribution network and energy demand, leading to more and more frequent blackouts, which consequent high costs for people and industries. The aim of this work is to assess the impacts of potential changes in precipitation and temperature extremes over Italian peninsula in the electro-energy system.

We analysed the EURO-CORDEX dataset (Jacob et al., 2014), an ensemble of 14 regional climate models at horizontal resolution of 0.11° (about 12 km) under the emission scenario RCP 8.5 in the medium (2021-2050) and long-term (2071-2100).

To investigate the change of climatic signal, at first model values have been bias-corrected by using MESAN (Landelius et al, 2016), a reference reanalysis dataset of surface meteorological variables at 5 km resolution. Then, they have been used to compute ETCCDI Indices, a subset of standard indices defined by the World Meteorological Organization Expert Team on Climate Change Detection and Indices (WMO, 2009).

Regarding precipitation, the results highlight that an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme events is likely. A certain degree of uncertainty has been found in characterizing the more vulnerable areas, especially in short term period (2021-2050), but nevertheless an increase of electric failures is expected. Significant signals about some reduction of precipitations and an increased length of dry spells have also been obtained leading to a decrease of hydroelectric power generation and to a scarcity of water for the cooling of thermoelectric power plants.

The expected more frequent dry periods associated to heat waves will first reduce the efficiency of production of thermoelectric power plants and the water used for cooling processes. Secondly hot days will hamper the transmission and distribution of energy. Moreover a warmer climate will cause a faster glacier melting and, consequently, a reduced water availability for hydroelectric-power generation. If we add to this factors the increase of the energy demand for cooling, an higher risk of more and more frequent blackout is expected.

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