Scholarship code CU3.283

Impact of climate change on the renewable energy sector in Italy

  • Reference person
  • Host University/Institute
    IUSS Pavia
  • Internship
  • Research Keywords
    Renewable energy
    Climate change
  • Reference ERCs
  • Reference SDGs
    GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
    GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
    GOAL 13: Climate Action


The renewable energy sector is strongly tied with climate since the availability of renewable sources, like hydro, solar and wind power, very much depend on rain, radiation, and wind patterns. In a context of decarbonisation of the energy system, it becomes crucial to determine how the whole sector will be affected by climate change. Changes in cloud cover could impact on a solar panel productivity, while systematic changes in wind pattern could reduce the energy production of a wind farm. Meantime the projected reduction in mean precipitation could reduce considerably the energy produced by a hydroelectric power plant. Regional climate models (RCMs) are been proven to be an important tool in climate research and often used to drive impact models. However, RCMs tend to overestimate cloud cover while underestimating wind speed and precipitation extremes on current climate, thus reducing the confidence in their projections. In contrast, km-scale models, called Convection-Permitting Models (CPMs), substantially improve, especially at the sub-daily time scale, the representation of both precipitation and wind field thanks to the possibility to switch off the parameterisation of convection and to their substantially higher spatial resolution. This research topic aims to determine the impact of climate change on the renewable energy sector over the Italian peninsula. In particular, the focus will be on radiation, the wind pattern and speed, cloudiness and precipitation. Climate variables will be extracted from observational and reanalysis dataset, and from state-of-the-art climate simulations, like RCMs from the CORDEX dataset and CPMs from the CORDEX-FPS CONV initiative, for the historical, near and future climate. The analysis of climate data will provide an assessment of the changes expected to impact the energy sector. Climate analysis will be then integrated into energy system models developed and used within the A2A group. In particular, the results of climate analysis will the basis of the estimation of the electricity production from renewable sources over the Italian territory in the long-term horizon (next 30-40 years). The main goal will be to identify potential trends of producibility in a spatial-temporal framework and, subsequently, to estimate the tendency of generation volumes of existing and future renewable plants in Italy. The probability of extreme climate events that may statistically limit the producibility of the renewable power assets will also be analyzed. In addition, a geographical analysis aimed to identify and categorize the investment attractiveness of Italian regions/areas may be conducted.

Suggested skills:

The ideal candidate should have a strong background in data analysis and statistics (analysis of probability distribution functions, uncertainties, etc.) and be familiar with the management of large datasets. He/she should preferably have knowledge of the energy system and its sectors, as well as its possible interactions with weather and climate.

Research team and environment

IUSS mission is to provide advanced education to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as fundamental and applied research in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and Human, Social and Life Sciences. At IUSS, PhD candidates will find an open multidisciplinary environment offering real opportunities for developing academic and professional tools for facing the challenges arising from increasing complexity and fast changes in the society and the environment. IUSS is always and actively committed towards internationalisation, inclusion and diversity. The selected candidate will join the research centre on Climate change impAct studies for RISk MAnagement (CARISMA). The CARISMA team is composed by STEM and Social scientists working in the prism of climate change on: data analysis and modelling of Earth system and economic system processes; impact assessment of extreme natural events and anthropogenic activities on human and natural environments; risk management of natural and anthropogenic hazards; formulation and proposal of new economic, political and legal models of sustainable development.A2A is an Italian multiutility active in several fields: generation of electricity from different sources, distribution and sale of electricity and natural gas, district heating, waste collection and treatment, electric mobility, public lighting, water service. The mission of A2A is to increase the life quality of clients, citizens and employees, taking care of next generations and future of the planet. A2A has recently published a 10-years industrial plan based on two main pillars: 1) Energy Transition, aimed at sustaining the decarbonization process by developing the electricity production from renewables, the energy efficiency and the electrification of consumptions; 2) Circular Economy: aimed to promote the protection of the environment by the increase of waste reduction, reutilization and recycling. Key company figures in 2021 follows: 11.5 B€ of revenues, 500 M€ of EBITDA, 13.300 employees.The analysis of meteorologic and climatic phenomena is of great importance for A2A, as they directly impact many aspects of the business, especially in electricity generation and consumption, energy trading, distribution grids management and control, investment planning.