The Future of the European Electricity Grid Is Bright: Cost Minimizing Optimization Shows Solar with Storage as Dominant Technologies to Meet European Emissions Targets to 2050

Zack Norwood, Joel Goop, Mikael Odenberger
2017 Energies  
The European roadmap for the power sector dictates an 80-95% cut of existing levels of carbon dioxide emissions is needed by the year 2050 to meet climate goals. This article describes results from a linear cost optimization investment model, ELIN, coupled with a solar technology model, Distributed Concentrating Solar Combined Heat and Power (DCS-CHP), using published investment costs for a comprehensive suite of renewable and conventional electricity generation technologies, to compare
more » ... to compare possible scenarios for the future electricity grid. The results of these model runs and sensitivity analyses indicate that: (1) solar photovoltaics (PV) with battery storage will likely play a very large role in meeting European targets; (2) concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage is at a slight economic disadvantage with respect to PV to compete economically; (3) the economic potential of wind power is only comparable with solar PV if high wind penetration levels are allowed in the best wind sites in Europe; and (4) carbon capture and nuclear technologies are unlikely to compete economically with renewable technologies in creating a low-carbon future grid. achieve carbon reductions of more than 80% at installed costs not unlike what we are seeing today in Europe. Furthermore, without these low solar PV costs, nuclear and CCS technologies would likely play a significant role in the western U.S. grid. In terms of solar technology models, there have been several concentrating solar power (CSP) technology comparisons that show the large potential of CSP technologies (including as peaking plants and with thermal storage) [5] and expected learning curves [6] that would enable meeting long-term climate targets. Furthermore, the techno-economic analysis of Peters et al. [7] shows that CSP could begin to be more cost effective than PV by 2020 in favorable regions of the U.S. and Europe, whereas Denholm and Margolis [8] showed that the potential of PV with storage for much less than one day of load would allow more than 50% of total energy on the grid to come from PV in the ERCOT system in the U.S. This article builds on these results and demonstrates the competitiveness between different solar power technologies, solar and wind, thermal and electrical storage technologies and conventional power plants including CCS and nuclear in the European grid based on techno-economic optimization modeling through the year 2050. It should be noted that this study does not aim to forecast the most probable scenario for the future European electricity system. The modeling is explorative in nature and compares suitable combinations of technologies under different scenario assumptions. Method
doi:10.3390/en10122080 fatcat:tv5mcowwaff5jnoswunwai3ev4