PowerWeb Lecture: Can energy system models save the world? A cautionary tale
22 September 2022 12:45 till 13:30 - Location: TU Campus (tbd) | Add to my calendar
By Dr. Stefan Pfenninger; Assistant Professor at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Section Energy & Industry
Date: Thursday 22 September 2022
Time: 12:45-13:30 (free lunch from 12:15)
Location: Faculty of EWI, Mekelweg 4, Hall CHIP
Moderator: Dr Francesco Lombardy
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In this talk I will present insights from several recent studies modelling all of Europe's energy supply and demand with energy system models, and how such studies can help guide energy policy making. We will cover the diversity of options available to decarbonise the European energy system and trade-offs between different solutions, with particular attention on the analysis needed for large-scale renewable electricity integration. I will go into the structure and assumptions behind such models and what these mean for translating results from the model world to the real world; to conclude with a discussion on whether model-based studies are missing crucial facets of the energy transition and - if so - how these gaps could be resolved.
Stefan Pfenninger is assistant professor of energy systems in the Energy and Industry group. His research is on the global transition to a 100% clean and renewable energy system, and on identifying and resolving the technical, economic and policy barriers on the way to that goal. He holds a BSc in environmental science from ETH Zürich and an MSc in environmental technology and PhD in civil and environmental engineering from Imperial College London.
Together with my team I investigate three broad areas. First, understanding the variability of renewable energy at spatial scales ranging from individual buildings to entire continents, and at time scales ranging from minutes to decades. Second, designing the energy systems that can deal with and even thrive on this variability, with strategies from continent-spanning electricity grids to district heat networks. Third, trade-offs between sustainable energy and other issues, such as land use, material requirements, and ecosystem impacts.
Our key methods are computationally and data intensive approaches and mathematical optimisation. In the course of my work I created and lead development of the open-source energy system modelling tool Calliope. I am also the creator and lead developer of the Renewables.ninja platform to simulate wind and solar power plants worldwide. I am a member of the Open Energy Modelling Initiative which promotes openness and transparency in