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Securing the EU's energy future: Adapting our energy system to climate change (2015)


Climate change poses multiple challenges to the energy system of the European Union. Energy generation must become less carbon-intensive, as climate mitigation policies progressively rely on low-carbon, renewable energy. In addition, there is increased focus on reducing the vulnerability of that energy system to climate impacts.

The ToPDAd research project has brought together economic, energy, climate and social models to provide a glimpse into how the energy system might evolve over the coming decades and into the points of greatest vulnerability. Several case studies look at the impacts of both gradual climate change and extreme weather events. The results show that whereas the EU energy system can largely accommodate gradual climate change, it is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events.

Adaptation of the energy system will happen largely automatically. Currently, investments already take long-term uncertainty (including climate uncertainty) into account. However, improved scientific knowledge of the scale and timing of climate change through ToPDAd will reduce this uncertainty and hence reduce investment risk.

ToPDAd also studied the broader macro-economic impact of climate damage – with and without adaptation scenarios. Using the case of nuclear power in France as an example, the results show that losses could vary between tens and several hundred billions of euros per decade as of 2100, if the current infrastructure and policies remain in place. Adaptation strategies like building a smart grid and changing the coolant regulations for nuclear plants could reduce economic losses by a third or more. This is a clear message that investments in adaptation of the energy system and the policies that support them, do pay off.

Reference information

TopDAd project


EU energy system, cost

Climate impacts

Droughts, Extreme Temperatures, Flooding, Sea Level Rise, Storms, Water Scarcity


Adaptation Measures and Actions, Observations and Scenarios, Vulnerability Assessment



Geographic characterisation


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