A multi-sector framework for accelerating renewable energy deployment in power, transport and industry

Time: Mon 2020-06-08 13.30

Location: Publikt via Zoom, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Energy Technology

Doctoral student: Emanuele Taibi , Energisystemanalys, dESA-ITM

Opponent: Associate Professor Laurens de Vries, TU Delft

Supervisor: Associate Professor Francesco Fuso-Nerini, Energisystemanalys


Climate change is the defining issue of our time (United Nations, 2018). Renewable energy, combinedwith energy efficiency, can potentially be the most effective solution to address energy-relatedGreenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This work covers global, regional and national strategies to acceleratedeployment of renewable energy in power, transport and industry, using a variety of methodologies toaddress sectoral challenges and account for sectoral specificities. These sectors jointly represented 85%of energy-related emissions in 2016 (IRENA, 2019a).The thesis is structured around four focus areas. Foci 1-3 investigate the key components of an energytransformation jigsaw that looks at key sectors in which renewable energy can be integrated: industry,transport and power. The fourth focus area is informed by the other three and provides key insights forthe necessary institutional setting and changes for the transition to renewable energy to play out.Focus 1: Decarbonising industryIndustry needs a combination of electricity and heat, therefore apart from decarbonising electricity it isalso necessary to decarbonise heat: depending on temperature levels, a combination of solar thermal,heat pumps and most prominently bioenergy can help in decarbonising process heat. In this thesis I focuson the often overlook role of renewable energy in process heat provision. The analysis presented here isglobal in scale and covers all manufacturing sectors, assessing the potential for biomass, as well as solarthermal and heat pumps, to provide the necessary process heat for industry. This, in combination withincreased electrification and the production of hydrogen from renewable power, charts the way in termsof decarbonisation of industry at the global level. Results show that renewables can replace 50% of fossilfuel consumption for industry. In addition to this, decarbonisation of electricity supply can indirectlydecarbonise industry, especially if industrial energy demand is further electrified.Focus 2: Decarbonising transportIn the transport sector, we can replace petroleum fuels with renewable fuels. To date, this has beenachieved mostly with biofuels. In the future, renewables-based hydrogen and its derivatives can also bea significant source of carbon-neutral fuels. Finally, we are witnessing the rise of battery electric vehicles,which can be leveraged to provide flexibility to the power system and integrate more solar and wind,creating a virtuous cycle of more renewables in power and in transport at once. The analysis presentedin this thesis covers both the structural evolution of the automotive sector in Europe, and how the shiftfrom gasoline to diesel in passenger cars would affect the demand for biodiesel as opposed to ethanol,and the impact of battery electric vehicles (EVs) on the power system. In particular, this analysis looks athow EVs can be leveraged to facilitate the integration of large shares of solar and wind into powersystems, with an application to a small island developing state (SIDS) that pledge to go 100% renewableenergy by 2030, Barbados. Sectoral interactions, like the impact of electric vehicles on the power sector,are also crucial in determining a smooth, coordinated transition of the energy sector away from fossilfuels, further improving affordability and reliability of energy services.Focus 3: Transforming the power sector through rapid deployment of solar and windAs the power sector is a fundamental driver for the energy transition, this PhD tackles some of thechallenges related to the use of solar and wind as main sources for power sector decarbonisation. This 

PhD covers methodological aspects on how to perform the necessary planning studies to transform thepower system using solar and wind generation. This methodological planning framework is applied 1) inthe power generation expansion plan for the Republic of Cyprus, as a key contribution to the developmenton the National Energy Roadmap of Cyprus, 2) to the Pacific Small Island Developing State (SIDS) of Samoa,looking at how different studies can translate policy targets into a renewable-based, reliable andaffordable power system, and 3) to the Caribbean SIDS of Barbados, where the power system analysisshows how to link the power sector to the transportation sector to provide mutual benefits from thedecarbonisation of both sectors.Focus 4: The institutional framework for accelerated renewable energy deploymentFor change to happen, especially at the pace and scale required to meet the objectives of the Parisagreement, the institutional framework for the energy sector requires changes. Increased electrificationaccompanied by decarbonisation of the power sector requires significant changes to how electricity isprocured, regulated, traded and financed. In some regions policies and markets should be adjusted orredesigned. In other regions, the absence of unbundled wholesale electricity markets could be initially achallenge but could be turned into an opportunity for an easier, speedier transition implemented by avertically integrated utility, which is the most common model to date in the majority of countries.Institutional frameworks are very specific for each country or, at best, region, and are difficult to transferfrom one context to another; however, they often remain the largest obstacle to an acceleration inrenewable energy deployment.Beyond the power sector, industry is a sector where change is difficult to achieve at speed, as largeinvestments already in place and global competitiveness of products and services make transitionsparticularly difficult. Additionally, industry requires rapid returns, limiting the spectrum of viableinvestments into new processes, which in turn limits energy efficiency potential and the possibility ofadopting renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.For renewables in transport, a precedent has been set by biofuels, as in many regions and countries theyrepresent an important renewable energy resource for decarbonisation of transport. Moving forward,especially for global sectors like shipping and aviation, a broader framework will be required to introducecarbon-neutral fuels at scale.Overall, the goal of this thesis is to provide policy makers with a set of tools and examples that can supportthe development of effective policies and plans for the increased adoption of renewable energy sourcesat the global, regional and national level and spanning transport, industry and the power sector.