Simulation brings global 100% renewable electricity system alive for the first time

November 3, 2016, Lappeenranta University of Technology
Credit: Lappeenranta University of Technology, LUT

A new model developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) shows how an electricity system mainly based on solar and wind works in all regions of the world. It shows the functioning of an electricity system that fulfils the targets set by the Paris agreement by using only renewable energy sources.

The global Internet of Energy Model visualizes a 100 percent renewable energy system (100%RE) for the sector for 2030. It can do this for the entire world which, in the model, has been structured into 145 regions, which are all visualised, and aggregated to 9 major world regions.

"With the simulation, anyone can explore what a renewable electricity system would look like. This is the first time scientists have been able to do this on a global scale." says Christian Breyer, LUT Solar Economy Professor and a leading scientist behind the model.

The model is designed to find the most economical solution for a renewable electricity system. The model shows how the supply of electricity can be organised to cover the electricity demand for all hours of the year. This means that best mix of renewable energy generation, storage and transmission components can be found to cover the electricity demand, leading to total electricity cost roughly between 55 and 70 euros per megawatt-hour for all 9 major regions in the world.

But the story does not end here. The researchers have ambitious goals to develop the model further. Future upgrades will go from looking only at the electricity sector to showing the full energy sector, including heat and mobility sectors. The model will also describe how to transition from the current energy system towards a fully sustainable one.

According to the researchers the model debunks myths about what renewables can and cannot achieve. One of the myths is that a fully renewable energy system cannot possibly run stable for all hours of the year, due to the intermittent character of solar and wind energy. Another myth is the idea that without large base load generation capacities, such as coal or nuclear plants, an electricity system cannot work. According to the researchers, both of these are incorrect and the facts can be checked from the model.

"My hope is that we can finally stop debating about these myths. The visualisation shows exactly how a fully renewable electricity system operates. So let's just build it," emphasizes Pasi Vainikka, Principal Scientist from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd

Transparency of the data and research is very important for the researchers. Anyone can download the result data for further inspection. The publications based on the data are available online.

"We want the model to give every citizen the chance to familiarise themselves with a renewable energy system. Increased knowledge usually lowers the resistance towards new developments," says Vainikka.

Researchers hope that this can facilitate fact-based discourse on global energy transition.

"Every country in the world has to find pathways to achieve the Paris agreement targets and to avoid stranded assets. This model can provide the help for policy-makers, industrial decision-makers and societal stakeholders to do that," emphasizes Breyer.

Explore further: Russia can be one of the most energy-competitive areas based on renewables, study shows

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8 comments

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gkam
1 / 5 (6) Nov 05, 2016
All we have to do now is to manifest it.

Think of it: No smoke, no noise, no pollutants, no Big Oil owning us, no need for eleven naval carrier groups to guard the oil lanes.

Meanwhile:
http://thediploma...g-down/?

"The challenge for the Chinese nuclear industry is to do what no other nuclear industry worldwide has been able to do; to bring the cost of nuclear generation down to levels at which it can compete with other forms of generation, particularly renewables."
WillieWard
2 / 5 (4) Nov 05, 2016
"...down to levels at which it can compete with other forms of generation, particularly renewables."
Hmm cheap natural gas/fracking is renewable.
"Natural gas companies love renewables and supports environmentalists efforts to close nuclear power."
http://www.renewa...les.html
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2016
best mix of renewable energy generation, storage and transmission components can be found to cover the electricity demand


Now we just have to figure out how and where to get the transmission and storage components, which are rarely considered when renewable energy producer subsidies are handed out.

Large scale transmission projects face NIMBY problems, such as the north-south transmission line in Germany, and large scale storage methods are simply non-existent, and lacking in research and development funding because all the money is going to the producer subsidies.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2016
If anyone is interested: the link to the web interface is here:
http://neocarbone...fenergy/
(watch out - running the day-to-day simulation is pretty resource intensive. This might slow down surfing in other tabs to a crawl.)

You can play around at an astonishingly detailed level with the settings. Nice.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Nov 11, 2016
If anyone is interested: the link to the web interface is here:
http://neocarbone...fenergy/
(watch out - running the day-to-day simulation is pretty resource intensive. This might slow down surfing in other tabs to a crawl.)

You can play around at an astonishingly detailed level with the settings. Nice.

Pretty neat sim. However, it still looks too "centralized".
Bring on "energy anarchy" and build a decentralized network where power is generated (and stored) by everyone, everywhere!
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 11, 2016
However, it still looks too "centralized".

To go to a decentralized view you have to switch to 'Regions". Though the powerlines in the individual countries aren't shown.

Bring on "energy anarchy"

Sooner or later that will happen. As energy efficiency increases along with ease of energy harvesting there will come a break-even point where you don't connect to a grid at all anymore (i.e. where a grid is only left as a backup for emergencies). But that might take another century or so.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 11, 2016
"Bring on "energy anarchy" and build a decentralized network where power is generated (and stored) by everyone, everywhere!"
------------------------------------------
Poco a poco to begin with, then, . . .

We are obviating the need for central plants and our need to support and guard them. Big Power, such as nukes and coal are going fast. We will use the grid mostly for trading power for small users, and many large ones, as well.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2016
Poco a poco..
Global 100% wind/solar is a nightmare for birds and bats and natural landscapes, and a wonderland for natural gas/fracking barons.
Poco a poco, carbon-free nuclear power is being recognized the only way to meet the 2°C target to stop global warming, because the symbiotic partnering of renewables&fossil-fuels is already resulting in drastic and irreversible changes to the planet that will lead to extinction of the majority of life on the planet, including humans.
https://scontent-...78_o.jpg

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