Simulating the cost of generating a combination of electricity sources

Increasing reliance on renewable energies is the way to achieve greater CO2 emission sustainability and energy independence. As such energies are yet only available intermittently and energy cannot be stored easily, most countries aim to combine several energy sources. In a new study in EPJ Plus, French scientists have come up with an open source simulation method to calculate the actual cost of relying on a combination of electricity sources. Bernard Bonin from the Atomic Energy Research Centre CEA Saclay, France, and colleagues demonstrate that cost is not directly proportional to the demand level. Although recognised as crude by its creator, this method can be tailored to account for the public's interest-and not solely economic performance-when optimising the energy mix.

The authors consider wind, solar, hydraulic, nuclear, coal and gas as potential . In their model, the energy demand and availability are cast as random variables. The authors simulated the behaviour of the mix for a large number of tests of such variables, using so-called Monte-Carlo simulations.

For a given mix, they found the energy cost of the mix presents a minimum as a function of the installed power. This means that if it is too large, the fixed costs dominate the total and become overwhelming. In contrast, if it is too small, expensive energy sources need to be frequently solicited.

The authors are also able to optimise the energy mix, according to three selected criteria, namely economy, environment and supply security.

The simulation tested on the case of France, based on 2011 data, shows that an is 2.4 times the average demand in this territory. This mix contains a large amount of nuclear power, and a small amount of fluctuating energies: wind and solar. It is also strongly export-oriented.

Explore further

Renewable energy is ready to supply all of Australia's electricity

More information: Bonin, B. et al. (2014). "MIXOPTIM: a tool for the evaluation and the optimization of the electricity mix in a territory." European Physical Journal Plus. DOI: 10.1140/epjp/i2014-14198-7
Journal information: European Physical Journal

Provided by Springer
Citation: Simulating the cost of generating a combination of electricity sources (2014, October 13) retrieved 24 October 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Oct 13, 2014
A distributed grid of disparate sources allows greater flexibility in operations, if built and controlled correctly.

Oct 20, 2014
Two stories in a row stating the same silly misconceptions. As if free energy is a bad thing. Its free. If you don't want it, don't use it. You know what happens when you disconnect a solar panel? Nothing. That's right, nothing. Use the power when it's there and don't if you don't want to. This isn't rocket science.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more