Wildfire, floods, hailstorms and windstorms are damaging solar and wind projects with greater frequency and severity, finds GCube

Extreme weather events that fall outside of traditionally modelled natural catastrophe (nat cat) definitions, including hailstorms, wildfires and extreme cold, are continuing to increase rapidly in frequency and severity, resulting in significant losses in the renewable energy sector. 

According to a report from GCube, over 70% of solar losses in the last ten years have occurred since 2017. Across both wind and solar, the average nat cat or extreme weather-related loss in the latter half of the decade was over 300% higher than before 2015.

Whilst solar projects have most frequently been damaged by wildfire, compared to flooding for wind projects, both technologies have also seen substantial claims from windstorms and hailstorms, with the largest single solar loss in history resulting from a hailstorm in 2019.

A lack of historic data around extreme weather events has resulted in projects being built in locations more hazardous than previously expected, increasing losses for both wind and solar, according to the report.

Fraser McLachlan, CEO of GCube, said: “As we have just seen in Texas, unmodelled extreme weather events can have a significant impact on the grid, and this is only one of many challenges currently threatening the renewables sector.”

He continued: “Lessons need to be learned from the sector’s management of climate risks to ensure greater resilience to emerging threats like cyber-attacks and the impacts of Covid-19.”