CMIP-5 models project photovoltaics are a no-regrets investment in Europe irrespective of climate change

Johannes Müller*, Doris Folini, Martin Wild, Stefan Pfenninger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Using projections of surface solar radiation and temperature from 23 CMIP5 global climate models for two climate change scenarios (RCP4.5 & 8.5) we quantify the average change in PV electricity production expected in the years 2060–2080 compared to the present (2007–2027). We upsample daily radiation data to hourly resolution with a sinusoidal diurnal cycle model and split it into direct and diffuse radiation with the semi-empirical BRL model as input to a PV electricity generation model. Locally, changes in PV potential from −6% to +3% in annual and −25% to +10% in monthly means are shown. These projections are combined with a PV deployment scenario and show countries benefitting from increased PV yields include Spain, France, Italy and Germany. We also calculate uncertainties when calculating PV yield with input data at daily or lower resolution, demonstrating that our method to derive synthetic hourly profiles should be of use for other researchers using input data with low temporal resolution. We conclude that PV is an attractive and no-regrets investment in Europe irrespective of future climate change, and can continue to play a key role in energy system decarbonisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change impact
  • Energy scenarios
  • Europe
  • Solar photovoltaic energy


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