“the Future Of Renewable Energy Integration In Gas And Electricity Grids” – The European energy system is currently changing at a rapid pace, and the growth of wind and solar power will create an increasing demand for flexibility. The integration of energy sectors can provide cost-effective ways to increase the flexibility of the energy system, but it will require a lot of cooperation and information before it can be implemented.

Despite the ongoing energy crisis, there was good news about the progress of the energy transition: the costs of wind and solar power have fallen faster than expected, and their capacity is now growing at a significantly faster rate than even their biggest Proponents dared to predict only 5-10 years ago. For example:

“the Future Of Renewable Energy Integration In Gas And Electricity Grids”

As an energy system researcher, it is great to see that we are finally moving on from the issue of increasing renewable generation to solving the challenges related to its integration. Variable generation requires a new approach to control the energy system in order to guarantee both the stability of the power grid and the balance of generation and demand at any moment and in all circumstances.

A Future Based On Renewable Energy — European Environment Agency

In this blog post, I will attempt to explain how the balancing of generation and demand will create challenges in the future and how they can be solved through cooperation between systems and end-users. Indeed, “sector integration”, the somewhat clunky term for this cooperative approach, refers to different energy sectors that support or provide flexibility to each other.

The figure below illustrates the components of the energy system and the sources of flexibility in the renewable energy system. In simple words, the flexibility in our current system is based on generation, and neither the system nor the consumers have to be reactive in any way. However, in the future, all three must be able to flexibly support one another.

Sources of flexibility in the renewable energy system. The different system and end-use sectors work together and support each other.

Methods for increasing flexibility include increasing the opportunities and incentives for demand response, strengthening electricity transmission connections, direct electrical storage and developing the cooperative operation of sectors. We need to select the methods that are the most cost-effective for the entire system in the long run and that will support the long-term stability and development of the system in a variety of future scenarios.

Embracing Renewable Energy Integration In Lng Construction For A Sustainable Future

From Finland’s point of view, a key example of sector integration is flexible district heat generation with the use of heat storage. Here the district heating sector provides flexibility for the electricity sector. Traditionally, combined heat and power (CHP) has operated only based on district heating demand. However, large heat storage would allow cogeneration plants to be operated also according to the needs of the electricity system. By storing the heat, both demands can be satisfied with added flexibility, but without compromising efficiency. District heat may also be generated using large heat pumps. Their operation can also follow the demands of both the electrical and heating systems, with the heat storage facilities serving as a buffer. This type of sector integration solution may be able to increase flexibility less expensive than, for example, direct electrical storage.

This example illustrates the many opportunities for sector integration, but it should be noted that there are still many conditions for its profitability: first, the share of district heating and joint generation must be significant, and there must be suitable heat sources for the heat pumps . and locations for the heat storage. Second, the energy markets in a highly renewable system and the cost of different flexibility options still remain uncertain. Therefore, we can be somewhat confident in stating that different sectors should support each other in the future, but that the solutions and their scopes still remain uncertain and location-dependent.

The need for flexibility in the future energy system will increase on all time scales, from a second-to-second or even time-to-time basis. From the perspective of a systems researcher, perhaps the most interesting issue is the management of long-term variations that involve time scales from weeks onward, so called seasonal flexibility. To simplify, the need for seasonal flexibility arises from the differences in summer and winter energy demand, seasonal fluctuations in solar, wind and hydropower, and preparing for security situations. However, the need for seasonal flexibility is not limited to fluctuations in a single year, but also to several consecutive years of poor weather conditions or system-related disruptions.

Traditional large-scale seasonal flexibility providers are fossil fuel storage, such as coal stockpiles and geological storage sites for natural gas. Their advantage is that they can be used to cheaply store large amounts of energy for long periods of time without significant losses. However, there are no direct renewable replacements readily available. Hydropower reservoirs and biomass storage are still available in a fully renewable system, but their potential is limited.

What Are The Current Trends In Renewable Energy?

When converted into hydrogen (or a hydrogen-based derivative), electricity could, in principle, be stored and transported in the same way as fossil fuels today, in which case hydrogen could serve as an intermediate and seasonal energy storage. However, the conversion, storage and transfer of this type of energy vectors is currently expensive and involves significant efficiency losses, thus making them commercially unviable. In particular in providing short-term flexibility, it seems that there are more cost-effective alternatives. In the near-term future, the most promising sector integration use for hydrogen is in industrial demand response: the first large-scale users of the hydrogen economy will most likely be in industry, where electrolyzers could be operated according to the availability of renewable variables. Electricity, using the storage of the final product as a source of flexibility. Although uncertainties about the role of the hydrogen economy remain large, in the long term it offers great potential, and there is a lot of political drive behind it – which makes it worth following closely in the coming years and decades.

Another interesting question is related to the aforementioned connection between the district heating and electricity sector. District heating may be a significant provider of flexibility in the future, but on the other hand, direct electrification and the maintenance costs of the district heating network may also reduce the current role of district heating. Third, we must highlight the amount of demand flexibility provided by end-users. There is huge potential for flexibility in building heating, mobility and industry if the electrification of society continues to progress as planned. However, the inclusion of end-users as providers of flexibility still requires developments in technology, markets and consumer readiness.

The next phase of the energy transition requires a focus shift from increasing renewable generation to consider system flexibility

Although the energy transition is still far from complete, many of ​​his wildest dreams are already true – the share of wind power in Europe is in the double digits percentage-wise, and consumers feel truly confident in purchasing solar panels for their homes. In the midst of the energy crisis, it is worth celebrating the achievements. Now we are preparing to move to the next phase of the energy transition, which includes not only increasing the share of renewable production but also focusing on the flexibility of the energy system. In this blog post, I have tried to illustrate the concepts of flexibility, such as the drivers of flexibility increase, sector integration as a source of flexibility, how flexibility is needed in different time scales, and which sector integration solutions seem most interesting in this point in time.

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Different solutions for sector integration can deliver benefits in different timescales. However, increasing sector integration will always require cooperation and careful coordination: how will the steering, data transfers, planning and use of different parties seamlessly serve both their common and individual interests and also maintain the stability of the entire system? Part of the development of the coordination will be related to technological solutions, but it will also require regulation and develop the flexibility market. At best, renewable generation can help deliver substantial savings to the energy system, but some of those savings must be invested in providing and coordinating flexibility – to build a robust, secure and affordable energy system.

The efficient use of renewable and carbon-neutral energy in industry, transport and construction holds a key position in solving climate issues. However, everyone can participate in a clean energy system, including ordinary people like us. Even small choices by individuals have a big impact.

Blog post Technological carbon sinks under discussion in the new government program in Finland: What do they mean? Global decarbonization will require a massive build-out of wind and solar farms. But can developers find enough land, secure the supply chain and recruit workers while maintaining profitability?

The rapid maturation of wind and solar power is nothing short of astonishing. Not long ago, the development of new solar and wind farms was typically driven by small regional players, and the cost was significantly higher than that of a coal plant. Today, the cost of renewables has plummeted, and many solar and wind projects are carried out by large multinational companies, which often also announce staggering development targets.

Renewables 101: Integrating Renewable Energy Resources Into The Grid

This article is a collaboration of Florian Heineke, Nadine Janecke, Holger Klärner, Florian Kühn,

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