Fully renewable energy system is economically viable in Finland in 2050

June 8, 2015, Lappeenranta University of Technology

A fully renewable energy system, including all energy consuming sectors, is not only a possible but a viable solution for Finland, according to a new research. Researchers from Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) have investigated renewable energy system options for Finland in 2050. Results indicate that a fully renewable energy system is possible, and represents a competitive solution for Finland with careful planning.

In order to achieve the national greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2050, all sectors of the system need to be nearly emission free by 2050. Renewable modelling shows that a fully renewable energy system featuring high shares of wind and solar energy includes smart interaction between the electricity, heating/cooling and mobility sectors. Power-to-Gas technology, i.e. converting electricity into gases such as hydrogen or , and energy storage solutions, such as batteries, heat storage and synthetic natural gas storage, also have a central role as enabling technologies.

The research includes for the first time the cost and quantified dimensioning of the future energy system for Finland, which means the capacities for each of the production, consumption and storage technologies were defined. The study proposes an economically and technically feasible architecture as first vision for a feasible future energy system for Finland that could be later developed to a roadmap.

This system includes installed capacity of solar power of up to 35 gigawatts and 44 gigawatts of wind power, an amount well above those seen in previous analyses, but supported by an established potential for wind and solar photovoltaics in Finland. This could create more than 166 TWh of electricity annually, approximately double the current level of final electricity consumption. The excess electricity would then be used to create synthetic fuels that can be consumed when needed for variety of purposes. In addition, electricity would directly replace fossil fuels in the provision of many energy services, such as heating and transport. These results include stationary battery storage capacities of up to 20 GWh, three million electric vehicles with respective storage capacities and power-to-gas capacities of up to 30 GW.

In the study total annual costs for 100% renewable energy systems are approximately 25 billion euros, slightly less than scenarios with lower shares of renewable energy and a business as usual scenario (26 billion euros). The same trend was found for scenarios with lower shares and higher prices of forest biomass, albeit at higher overall annual cost. By comparison, the current energy system has an annual cost of approximately 18 billion euros and is set to rise to 21 billion euros by 2020 using the same method of calculation.

"The main message is the option of a fully system must be seen as a valid option for the future, rather than a radical alternative. Finland certainly has an abundance of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, bioenergy and already exploited hydropower, which can be sustainably utilised," says Christian Breyer, LUT's Professor for Solar Economy.

Modelling the components of future energy systems and calculating future costs are important because the Finnish energy system is at a crossroads. The current power generation system is aging, there are responsibilities to mitigate climate change and worries about fluctuating energy prices. At the same time, Finland has goals regarding national energy security as well as the need to retain a competitive industrial sector and meet the needs of a future society. Bioenergy alone cannot solve the energy supply problem.

The current study has concluded that flexibility will be a key, defining feature of future energy systems. By unlocking the full potential of all the flexibility available, more efficient and cost effective solutions can be found.

"Energy technologies will be a big part of these solutions, but let's not underestimate the impact that we can have on our own future. We have the opportunity to be more flexible energy consumers, and many individuals will become more active energy producers at the same time. We can become prosumers," states researcher Michael Child.

The researchers are part of LUT's Solar Economy Group. The research has been carried out in the NEO-CARBON ENERGY project. The results will be presented at the World Conference "Futures Studies Tackling Wicked Problems" in Turku on June 11th.

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28 comments

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gkam
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 08, 2015
This is not evolution, it is revolution!

Who would have thought this would be possible so soon?

Now we can sue the whiners to remind us of all the problems with this idea, as if they were the only ones who knew about them.
WillieWard
2 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2015
"Wind developers are siting turbines in areas of vital importance to birds and other wildlife, and this new data shows that the current voluntary system needs to be replaced with a mandatory permitting system."
"But the wind industry is not interested in accommodating bird migration and population needs, even slightly."
"Citing global warming as a reason to invest in wind, while ignoring wildlife, is disingenuous at best."
"It seems that the $100 billion wind market is just too lucrative to care about a few birds."
http://www.forbes...ionists/
"Wind Industry Ignores Bird Conservationists"
http://www.abcbir...ing.html

"...estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012."
http://onlinelibr...abstract
WillieWard
2.5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2015
This is not evolution, it is revolution!
No. It is a large-scale massacre of wildlife.
gkam
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 08, 2015
With Willie on ignore, I do not know what he posts, but can guess it is just more cutting and pasting, since he has no education in this field, nor experience.

But we all know he is losing the argument, and the technology race.
WillieWard
1.5 / 5 (2) Jun 08, 2015
But we all know he is losing the argument, and the technology race.
You are right. It's useless to resist to big renewable industry, multibillion-dollar business supported by powerful interests. Don't let yourself be destroyed as 'birds and bats' did.
Wildlife will be the Biggest Loser: "It seems that the $100 billion wind market is just too lucrative to care about a few birds." "...global warming as a reason to invest in wind, while ignoring wildlife,..."
gkam
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 08, 2015
The recent significant plunge in oil prices has STILL not stopped the march to the future in energy. Maybe the Saudi see the writing on the wall, especially in light of the alternative energy programs in their nations.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Jun 08, 2015
The recent significant plunge in oil prices has STILL not stopped the march to the future in energy.
Triumphant renewable industry, marching proudly on the skulls of innocent birds to cover wildlife's habitats with solar panels and wind blades. Luckless mother Earth, what future holds, terrifying.
gkam
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 08, 2015
We have a lot more sunshine than Finland.

I guess we have no real excuse, do we, . . except for political prejudice?
gkam
1 / 5 (3) Jun 08, 2015
Well, well, . . what have we here?

"G7 leaders bid 'Auf Wiedersehen' to carbon fuels"

http://www.reuter...20150608

Willie and Eikka, here is your chance to own your own coal plant!!!

Watch with glee and excitement as the toxic smoke hurls out of those stacks, letting everyone downwind know who you are!!
WillieWard
not rated yet Jun 08, 2015
Well, well, . . what have we here?
"G7 leaders bid 'Auf Wiedersehen' to carbon fuels"
http://www.reuter...20150608
"Merkel's G7 says 'Auf Wiedersehen' (farewell) to fossil fuels"
Well, well, . .
Now the Green lobby groups are in full power to promote more and more occupations in wildlife's habitats by solar panels and wind blades.
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Jun 08, 2015
Perhaps those interested in helping birds can buy a coal plant and put the wind turbines out of business. The Mercury in coal emissions kills birds?

Oh, . . . .
Shootist
2.6 / 5 (5) Jun 08, 2015
If I were in Finland I'd be rooting for Global Warming.
gkam
1 / 5 (3) Jun 08, 2015
This is not some silly game.
Sigh
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 13, 2015
WilliWard:
No. It is a large-scale massacre of wildlife.
You keep saying that, yet last time I asked, you refused to say whether you also oppose oil drilling in sensitive habitats. That makes it rather difficult to tell how genuine your alleged concern for birds is, or to what extent you just want a stick to beat wind power with.
Eikka
5 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2015
This is not evolution, it is revolution!

Who would have thought this would be possible so soon?


For a country that is already producing 1/3 of its energy from biomass and other renewables, that is at the forefront of CO2 free energy in the EU -- many.

This system includes installed capacity of solar power of up to 35 gigawatts and 44 gigawatts of wind power


The finnish electric system demand is about 10-15 GW, so the installed power represents a massive over-provisioning. Most - on the order of 75% - of the energy produced would be spent on power-to-gas synthesis or similiar.

three million electric vehicles with respective storage capacities and power-to-gas capacities of up to 30 GW.


They're assuming everyone will drive on electricity, instead of the more convenient synthetic gas that they're already making. In any case, 20 GWh worth of batteries is a tall order.
Eikka
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2015
We have a lot more sunshine than Finland.

I guess we have no real excuse, do we, . . except for political prejudice?


You lack 20 GWh of batteries and 30 GW worth of power-to-gas conversion capacity to actually pull off the same thing.

In fact, today, and in the near future - everyone does.

At today's level of technology, 20 GWh worth of batteries would cost approximately 6-7 billion dollars every 6-7 years, and roughly quadruple the power prices.
gkam
1 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2015
Oh, no!

We will all die of penury if we try to use wind power!
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2015
Oh, no!

We will all die of penury if we try to use wind power!


That's pretty much what will happen if you quadruple energy prices, because that more than quadruples the prices of everything else.

The vast majority of energy used is not in the form of electricity, but heat, which is three times cheaper because it suffers no conversion loss from fuel to heat. Space heating, hot water, cooking, industrial processes, all operate on fuels that cost $10-20 per MWh while wind and solar power etc. operate at a cost of $70-80 / MWh, sometimes even after being subsidized.

Synthesizing gas from renewable power more than doubles the price, because the current processes operate at roughly 50% efficiency, so then whatever chemicals you make out of the gas, such as plastics or fertilizers, end up costing 10 times as much compared to ones made out of fossil fuels.

So yes, the grand renewable future does seem like the majority of people will simply be dead.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2015
However, the future of fossil fuels doesn't look very different, There's methane clathrates, but those too cost a pretty penny to extract.

The question is to redirect all the renewable subsidies into research to bring the cost down as fast as possible, or failing that, massive investments in nuclear energy, or both. Failing that, well, hope you're not alive to see the result.

Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2015
For example, the price of natural gas in residential use in California is $11.53 per thousand cubic feet, which is equivalent to 1000000 BTU or 293 kWh, so gas costs 3.9 c/kWh piped straight into your home.

The citygate price is just $4.89 or 1.6 c/kWh

Meanwhile, the cost of contracts for renewable power in California, according to this document:

http://www.cpuc.c...NAL3.pdf

were 11.3 c/kWh ($113/MWh) in 2011 up from 5.4 c/kWh ($54/MWh) in 2003.

So by far renewable energy has been nearly 10 times as expensive as fossil fuels and the cost is trending upwards the more they're building. (page 10)

In order to meet the ambitious 20% and 33% RPS targets, the IOUs have to contract with new facilities, which require higher contract costs to recover the capital needed to develop a new facility

Eikka
not rated yet Jun 16, 2015
The "new facilities" of course refers to wind and solar power, geothermal etc. whereas "old facilities" would refer to hydroelectric power which also count as renewable energy.

In order to make synthetic natural gas out of the renewable power in California, the cost per kWh would at least double to 23-24 c/kWh which is six times more expensive than the residential rates, and 15 times more expensive than the citygate price, which is what you get out of the pipeline.

So if natural gas is phased out, the Californian almond farmers have a much bigger problem at hand than lack of water - lack of fertilizers, 80% of which are manufactured from natural gas.

This is why it's expedient that instead of building up to silly renewable targets like 33%, 50%, 100%, all that cash should be spent on research and development in cost reduction ASAP. When the price is right, the market will adopt the technology automatically without forcing.

Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2015
A more recent CPUC document:

http://www.cpuc.c...INAL.pdf

It concludes that the average "TOD adjusted" price in 2013 has declined to 8.4 cents/kWh.

However:

The increase in procurement expenditures for 2013 is attributed to 44 additional projects, with an average price of 13.8 cents per kWh, achieving commercial operation.


So old capacity is falling down in price as they recoup their investments, while new capacity is getting more and more expensive to bring online. $138/MWh is a horrible amount to pay for power.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2015
Too late, Eikka. It is happening.

Maybe they know something you do not?
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2015
Too late, Eikka. It is happening.

Maybe they know something you do not?


Maybe you believe something that isn't?

You're being duped. Unless the technology prices start going down fast, California is going to hit another energy crisis very soon with renewables and their greedy owners pushing the cost of energy through the roof.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2015
Eikka is already losing, Praying California will somehow fail, he continues to invents paranoiac fantasies.

Keep on carping from the sidelines. You can be another otto!!
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2015
If California dies, Eikka, you will all be back in the 1700's with coal, stunting pollution, and no future. You need us, to think and do for you.
ryggesogn2
5 / 5 (1) Jun 17, 2015
...and nuclear fusion will be working in 30 years.
But wait, that was said over 30 years ago!
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Jun 17, 2015
"...and nuclear fusion will be working in 30 years. But wait, that was said over 30 years ago!"
--------------------------------------

Yes, . . and cold fusion has been "just around the corner" for more than a decade.

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