Luxembourg climate resilience policy indicator

Source(s)
International Energy Agency

Country summary

  • Luxembourg’s average annual temperature during 1981-2010 was approximately 1°C higher than in 1961-1990, with a marked increase in the summer and spring. The average temperature is expected to continue rising across all seasons by around 1.1°C by mid-century and 3.1°C by the end of the century compared with 1961-1990. The temperature rise will lower the winter heating demand and increase the summer cooling demand.
  • Average annual precipitation in 1981-2010 was slightly higher than in 1961-1990, and heavy precipitation events have become more frequent. Climate projections indicate an increase in winter precipitation, which may raise flood risks in the winter.
  • Luxembourg’s updated National Strategy for Adapting to Climate Change identifies 42 adaptation measures for 13 different sectors, including energy. The strategy designates a responsible entity to monitor implementation progress, and identifies adaptation measures for biomass power plant development, solar energy decentralisation, and energy infrastructure resilience. 

Temperature

Average annual temperatures in 1981-2010 were around 1°C higher than in 1961-1990. Although temperatures have risen across all seasons, they have increased more in the summer and spring. The number of frost days (daily minimum temperature lower than 0°C) has decreased in recent decades, while the numbers of summer days (daily maximum temperature over 25°C) and tropical nights (night-time temperature over 20°C) have increased.

The temperature is expected to continue rising during all seasons, with averages increasing by around 1.1°C1 by mid-century and 3.1°C2 by the end of the century. The trend towards a lower number of frost days and more hot days is expected to continue.

As a result of warming over the past two decades, there are now fewer heating degree days (HDDs) and more cooling degree days (CDDs). The national adaptation strategy anticipates that this shift in HDDs and CDDs will reduce energy demand for heating in the winter but raise consumption for summer cooling.

Precipitation 

Luxembourg’s average annual precipitation was slightly higher in 1981-2010 (897 mm) than during the 1961-1990 reference period (875 mm), with little seasonal variation. Western Luxembourg, represented by the Asselborn and Clemency stations, has been historically wetter than the eastern regions (Grevenmacher and Remich stations). Clemency had the highest increase in precipitation between the two periods (+47 mm). The number of heavy precipitation events3 also rosebetween 1961-1990 (7.8 days) and 1981-2010 (8.3 days).

Although climate projections indicate no significant change in annual precipitation overall over the course of 21st century, a shift in seasonal precipitation is likely, with less in the summer and more in the winter.4 This rise in winter precipitation, coupled with more rain and less snow, could increase the risk of flooding in the winter and spring. This increase in flood risk could in turn affect the electricity system, increasing the frequency of infrastructure malfunctions of storage and transmission infrastructure. In July 2021, 250 families were left without electricity after severe flooding hit the country, but the electricity network operator prevented extensive damage by pre‑emptively taking a number of networks offline.

Tropical cyclones and storms

Luxembourg is sometimes affected by storms and tornadoes.5 High wind speeds can damage electricity transmission and distribution systems, as witnessed during the August 2019 tornado that damaged a 65‑kV line and partially destroyed the 220‑kV Esch-Aubange transmission line that imports electricity from Belgium. Due to the damage, this line was unavailable for almost a year. In future winters, storm tracks are expected to extend further into central Europe and could create more frequent and intense extreme wind events in this region.

Policy readiness for climate resilience

The Government of Luxembourg adopted its first National Strategy for Adapting to Climate Change in 2011 and updated it in 2018. Although the first version of the adaptation strategy did not focus on the energy sector specifically,6 the revised strategy identifies 42 adaptation measures for 13 different sectors, including energy. For each measure, the strategy designates a responsible entity to monitor implementation progress (the Ministry of Energy in the case of the energy sector). The revised strategy identifies three energy sector adaptation measures specifically targeting energy security and stability in case extreme meteorological events threaten oil importation: biomass power plant development; solar energy decentralisation; and broader adaptations for energy infrastructure. 

Luxembourg bases its efforts in climate change adaptation and resilience on research and assessments. The government report Adaptation to Climate Change – Strategies for Spatial Planning (2012) explores the relationship between adaptation and spatial planning, and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) has assembled detailed projections of the country’s future climatic conditions, including temperature, precipitation, extreme climate events, and the evolution of event days.

Compared with its climate change adaptation strategy, Luxembourg’s energy policies, such as the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and its white paper on an energy strategy, prioritise mitigation measures and focus less on climate resilience and adaptation.

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