- The Czech Republic’s average temperature has been rising at a faster rate than the world average in the past two decades. Warming is projected to continue until the end of the 21st century, causing summer temperatures to rise more quickly than winter ones.
- Precipitation varies considerably depending on the year, season and location. Observations indicate a notable increase in the number of days with heavy rainfall, while dry weather has also become more frequent and of longer duration. Therefore, in addition to the risk of different types of floods, greater drought frequency and length are expected in some regions.
- The Czech government has comprehensively assessed climate impacts and identified specific measures for energy sector climate resilience. In fact, its National Action Plan on Adaptation to Climate Change provides clear and detailed guidance on specific tasks and one of its priority sectors is Industry and Energy. In national energy plans, energy sector resilience is discussed mainly in terms of fuel supply security and external threats, rather than climate hazards.
Climate hazard assessment
The Czech Republic’s rise in average temperature in the past century has been more pronounced since 1980, and in the last two decades has outpaced increases in many other countries. Warming is projected until the end of the 21st century, with summers becoming warmer at a faster rate than winters, or than the yearly average. Near the end of the century (2070-2099), summers could be an average of 4°C hotter and winters 2.8°C warmer than during 1961-1990. The number of summer and tropical days will also increase gradually, although this may vary by location.
The increasing temperature affects energy demand for heating and cooling by lowering the number of heating degree days (HDDs) and raising the number of cooling degree days (CDDs). Given that a decrease in energy demand for heating is projected to outweigh the increase for cooling, a warmer climate may reduce total energy demand for heating and cooling in upcoming decades. However, higher demand for cooling during summer peak periods is expected to remain a concern, adding pressure to the transmission and distribution system.
Precipitation in the Czech Republic varies significantly depending on the year, season and location. Although there is no statistically significant trend in total annual precipitation, observations indicate a notable increase in the number of days with heavy rainfall, mainly caused by summer storm activity, while the frequency and duration of dry weather (with very little or no rain) is also increasing.
Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns therefore affect the occurrence of droughts. Statistics show an upward trend in dryness during 1805-2012, particularly in the springtime, and greater drought frequency and length are expected in the 21st century, especially from April to September. The increase is projected to be most evident in areas where a higher number of droughts occur already, such as the South Moravian region and the north-western part of Central Bohemia.
The Czech Republic is also exposed to different types of floods. Winter and spring floods are caused mainly by snowmelt and precipitation, while summer floods result from prolonged regional rainfalls or intense short-term precipitation. The negative impacts of floods on energy infrastructure were demonstrated in August 2010, when flash floods struck central Europe and left thousands of people in the northern Czech Republic without electricity or gas.
Tropical cyclones and storms
Although the country’s cyclone exposure is low, the higher occurrence of extreme windstorm events in the region, especially during the winter, may also threaten energy supply security by damaging transmission and distribution networks. In fact, high-speed winds toppled branches and trees onto power lines in 2019 and 2020, causing outages in several Czech regions. In 2019, 66 000 people were left without electricity for a few hours, and in 2020 46 000 were affected. In 2021, a rare tornado hit several villages in South Moravia, leaving around 70 000 households powerless and 1 600 homes destroyed.
Policy readiness for climate resilience
The Czech Republic has made a comprehensive assessment of climate impacts and identified measures for energy sector climate resilience. Its national assessment of impacts, vulnerabilities and risks of climate change, conducted in 2015 and updated in 2019, provides a detailed analysis of climate impacts and risks, and identifies industry and energy as one of the focus areas.
Based on the assessment’s findings, the government adopted the Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change of the Czech Republic in October 2015. The strategy also identifies industry and energy as one of ten selected areas and describes potential climate change impacts on the sector. It addresses how climate change adaptation in the energy sector is interlinked with adaptation and mitigation measures in other sectors, and offers a comprehensive list of adaptation measures for each subsector (e.g. industrial equipment, electricity, gas, oil, heating and renewables).
The strategy was updated in 2021 with an emphasis on connectivity across sectors. It identifies climate change impacts on the energy sector, such as lower hydropower production due to droughts; energy infrastructure damage resulting from floods; distribution network interruptions from heavy snowfall; lower PV plant and transmission network efficiency due to high temperatures; and transmission system malfunctions caused by extreme winds.
The January 2017 National Action Plan on Adaptation to Climate Change established a robust scheme to implement the strategy’s adaptation measures. Industry and energy is one of its priority sectors, and it provides clear and detailed guidance on specific tasks; allocation of responsibility; timelines; the relevance of certain measures to particular climate impacts; and financing sources. The action plan contains 34 objectives, including energy-related ones such as renewable energy sources resilient to the impacts of climate change; island operations; securing strategic stocks for emergencies; and high resiliency of the transmission network and diversification of the Czech Republic’s oil supply routes.
The action plan also assigns detailed tasks for each objective, with their priority levels ranked. For instance, the plan recommends developing smart grids, decentralising generation sources, ensuring full capacity for rapid recovery and supporting oil supply diversification to attain the objective of “high resilience of the transmission network and the diversification of oil supply routes”. However, the specific tasks under the energy-related objectives have not yet been fully implemented because they are not included in the 52 first-priority measures but in a second-priority category. Actual implementation of these identified tasks will be essential to build and enhance energy system climate resilience.
The National Action Plan was also updated in 2021, with the main difference being that individual adaptation measures are now divided into five main objectives. Most of the energy-related measures fall under “enhancement of resilience of human settlements, including their public and green infrastructure with an emphasis on protection of human health”. This objective is further divided into 39 adaptation measures, including creating a legislative and non-legislative framework to ensure energy security and resilience (and continuously evaluating the relevance and sufficiency of this framework in light of changes resulting from climate change); promoting innovation and technologies that use renewable energy sources for cooling and air conditioning of buildings; and developing methods to reduce societal vulnerability and increase resilience to meteorological extremes.
In the Czech Republic’s national energy policies, discussions on energy sector resilience revolve mainly around fuel supply crises and physical attacks, while attention to climate hazards is still limited. The State Energy Policy, which articulates the state’s priorities and strategic intentions for the energy sector to 2040, focuses on enhancing resilience to fuel supply crises and attacks, targeting a balanced energy mix, energy efficiency, international co‑operation, and research and innovation.
The November 2019 National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) maintains a similar stance, mainly discussing climate change mitigation and energy security in terms of fuel supply, although it briefly introduces the Czech Republic’s efforts towards climate change adaptation based on the National Adaptation Strategy and the Action Plan.