Managing variable renewables with biomass in the European electricity system: Emission targets and investment preferences
Journal article, 2020
Biomass can help reaching climate goals in many sectors. In electricity generation it can complement variable renewables or, if coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS), also provide negative emissions. This paper adds to the existing literature by focusing on the cost-efficiency of balancing variable renewables with biomass and by providing an indication on acceptance of these technologies. A dynamic optimization model is used to analyse the role of biomass in the European electricity system pending different emission targets for 2050. The results are compared with survey data on investment preferences for biomass technologies, and wind and solar power. The formulation of the emission target greatly influences the cost-efficient use of biomass, with more concentrated use observed, if bioenergy with CCS is allowed. This indicates that a Europe-wide emission target could be more cost-efficient than separate national targets. Both governmental and nongovernmental actors tend to be negative towards investing in biomass technologies, although with greater variation if combined with CCS, indicating possible challenges for implementation. Their attitudes towards wind and solar power are much more positive in all countries, supporting the continuation of the existing trend of an increasing share of variable renewables in the European electricity system.
Electricity system modelling