In the coming decades, the European energy system is expected to become increasingly reliant on non-dispatchable generation such as wind and solar power. Under such a renewable energy scenario, a better characterization of the extreme weather condition ‘Dunkelflaute’, which can lead to a sustained reduction of wind and solar power, is important. In this paper, we report findings from the very first climatological study of Dunkelflaute events occurring in eleven countries surrounding the North and Baltic Sea areas. By utilizing multi-year meteorological and power production datasets, we have quantified various statistics pertaining to these events and also identified their underlying meteorological drivers. It was found that almost all periods tagged as Dunkelflaute events (with a length of more than 24 h) are in November, December, and January for these countries. On average, there are 50–100 h of such events happening in each of these three months per year. The limited wind and solar power production during Dunkelflaute events is shown to be mainly driven by large-scale high-pressure systems and extensive low-cloud coverage. Even though the possibility of simultaneous Dunkelflaute events in neighboring countries can be as high as 30–40%, such events hardly occur simultaneously in all the eleven countries. Through an interconnected EU-11 power system, the mean frequency of Dunkelflaute drops from 3–9% for the individual countries to approximately 3.5% for the combined region, highlighting the importance of aggregating production over a wide area to better manage the integration of renewable energy generation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.