The Future of the European Electricity Grid Is Bright: Cost Minimizing Optimization Shows Solar with Storage as Dominant Technologies to Meet European Emissions Targets to 2050
Journal article, 2017
The European roadmap for the power sector dictates an 80–95% cut of existing levels of carbon dioxide emissions is needed by the year 2050 to meet climate goals. This article describes results from a linear cost optimization investment model, ELIN, coupled with a solar technology model, Distributed Concentrating Solar Combined Heat and Power (DCS-CHP), using published investment costs for a comprehensive suite of renewable and conventional electricity generation technologies, to compare possible scenarios for the future electricity grid. The results of these model runs and sensitivity analyses indicate that: (1) solar photovoltaics (PV) with battery storage will likely play a very large role in meeting European targets; (2) concentrating solar power (CSP) with thermal energy storage is at a slight economic disadvantage with respect to PV to compete economically; (3) the economic potential of wind power is only comparable with solar PV if high wind penetration levels are allowed in the best wind sites in Europe; and (4) carbon capture and nuclear technologies are unlikely to compete economically with renewable technologies in creating a low-carbon future grid.