European drought hits power production

Aug 16, 2022

Dried flowers on the Rhine with ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe in the background, Duisburg, Germany.

The high temperature and severe drought in Europe in summer 2022 will affect hydropower, nuclear power and solar power generation. Statistics from the Norwegian consulting firm Rystad Energy show that in the first seven months of this year, Europe's hydropower generation decreased by 20% compared with the same period last year, and nuclear power generation decreased by 12%. High temperatures lead to increased evaporation in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, lowering water levels, and hydropower bearing the brunt. In Italy, for example, hydropower accounts for 20% of the country's total electricity production, but the country's hydropower production has plummeted by 40% in the past 12 months. Hydropower production in Spain also plunged by 44%. High temperatures will also affect the water used to cool the reactors at nuclear power plants. In addition, high temperature weather is not conducive to solar power generation, because high temperature will lead to power loss of power generation panels and shortened service life.

A cargo ship transporting coal on the Rhine River in Duisburg, Germany. As the water level of the Rhine continues to drop, the capacity of barges traveling on the river has dropped significantly.