Adaptation: Field of Action Energy Sector

Wind power station in a crop fieldClick to enlarge
Climate change affects the entire energy process chain.
Source: Stefan Flach/

The energy transition is a central step in adapting the energy industry to climate change. Further measures are necessary to reduce the demand for cooling energy and to secure the energy supply even under extreme weather conditions.

Energy transition

The conventional energy supply has so far been characterised by a centralised power supply in large thermal power plants. With the amendment of the Atomic Energy Act in 2011 and the Coal Phase-out Act in 2020, the use of nuclear energy for energy generation will end in 2022, and that of hard coal and lignite in 2038 at the latest.

The long-term transition of the energy base towards renewable energies, above all wind energy and photovoltaics, is associated with a stronger decentralisation of the energy supply. This will make it more resilient to individual outages and localised events.

Indicators from the monitoring on the DAS: Energy diversification (electricity, heating and cooling), Electricity storage options

Measures to reduce cooling energy demand

Higher temperatures increase the demand for cooling, especially in the summer months. Therefore, energy-saving measures are necessary to reduce demand. This must be taken into account, especially in building concepts and urban planning. For example, building insulation, shading elements, green roofs and facades, and urban green spaces can significantly reduce the demand for cooling. In addition, the energy efficiency of technical equipment can be increased.

Measures in relation to insufficient cooling water for thermal power plants

In order to prevent shortage situations, the cooling water demand for thermal power plants can be reduced with the help of technical measures, among others. Recirculating cooling systems can significantly reduce the water demand of thermal power plants. In addition to the increasing use of water-saving technologies, the technical optimisation of thermal power plants plays an important role in water efficiency. In the past decades, the efficiency of power plants using fossil fuels could be increased considerably. As a result of these developments, water efficiency increased continuously. At the same time, nuclear power plants and hard coal-fired power plants contribute a smaller share to electricity generation, so that it is not yet fully foreseeable what significance water-saving cooling water use will have in the future.

Indicator from the monitoring on the DAS: Water efficiency of thermal power plants

Measures to secure regional supply chains for fossil fuels

If the use of waterways for transporting fuels for conventional power plants is restricted or interrupted due to high or low water, alternative supply and transport routes should be available. Making logistics and transport concepts more flexible and expanding and building new local storage facilities are ways to adapt effectively.

Measures to increase the reliability of energy supply

Possible extreme weather events such as floods, storms and thunderstorms, which could damage the grids, should be taken into account when selecting the location of grid components such as overhead lines and transformer stations. Both excessive snow loads and overloading of the grids in extreme temperatures can be technically prevented: In addition to overhead line monitoring, or temperature monitoring, high-temperature cables offer a way to reduce the risk of excessive transmission power. Heating wires or PEDT (pulse electro-thermal de-icing) can heat lines as protection against icing.