Workshop Summary: “Shaping our energy system – combining European modelling expertise”

On 24 January 2013, the Energy System Analysis Agency (ESA²) held a workshop discuss the results from its case studies of the European energy system in 2050 as well as its overall approach. The event took place at the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union in Brussels.

In the consortium’s approach, optimisation models, agent-based models, and life cycle assessment (LCA) based approaches have been linked together on a harmonised data basis. In the workshop, the consortium presented several case studies focusing on different aspects and criteria for assessing the various challenges in order to achieve the EU’s decarbonisation objective by 2050. For each case study, ESA² has selected a set of models to be coupled based on the requirements defined by the respective questions in each case allowing an in-depth analysis of the specific research question.

As overall results, the following conclusions were drawn: Renewables and energy efficiency will certainly dominate, but there is also a need for investment in a diversified electricity generation mix, e.g. fossil power plants with CCS and nuclear. It is obvious that this heavily depends on the development of the costs and also on the acceptance of the technologies. Furthermore, the future electricity load curve will be more volatile due to new electricity based appliances, as well as the increased use of heat pumps and electric vehicles. Demand side management can help considerably with the system integration of renewables. From an economic point of view, it makes sense to partly curtail the electricity from renewables that cannot be used and not to store every kWh produced. The expansion of the grid seems to be mandatory to geographically level out the fluctuations of renewable sources. In the short-term there is no need for relevant additional storage capacities. Due to the higher shares of renewables beyond 2030, storage technologies become more and more important. Besides, heating supply should play a more prominent role in the discussion of GHG emission reducing strategies.

The Energy System Analysis Agency – ESA² is an independent international consortium of renowned universities and research institutions from five European countries, which aims to combine their individual competencies in the area of energy and environmental systems analysis and to establish a new platform for knowledge transfer. ESA² has originated from a lighthouse innovation project part of KIC InnoEnergy. The project is additionally funded by the State of Baden-Württemberg (Ministry for Science, Research and Art).