Projects
January 2017 / January 2019

Modeling the European power sector evolution: low-carbon generation technologies (renewables, CCS, nuclear), the electric infrastructure and their role in the EU leadership in climate policy - MERCURY

MERCURY aims to model the European power sector evolution: low-carbon generation technologies (renewables, CCS, nuclear), the electric infrastructure and their role in the EU leadership in climate policy. In the first half of the project, developed at University of California, Berkeley, the modeling of the electric sector will be completed and refined; in the second half, developed at FEEM, the improved WITCH model will be employed in scenario assessment calculations.

MERCURY is a project within the Marie Curie European Global Fellowships (IF-GF) scheme for Experienced Researchers of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme. The project is developed by Dr. Samuel Carrara, under the direct scientific supervision of Dr. Massimo Tavoni. The outgoing phase is hosted by University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Kammen.

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a vital target for the coming decades. From a technology perspective, power generation is the largest responsible for CO2 emissions, therefore great mitigation efforts will be required in this area. From a policy perspective, it is common opinion that the European Union is and will remain leader in implementing clean policies. Basing on these considerations, the power sector and the European Union will be the two key actors of this project. The main tool adopted in this work will be WITCH, the integrated assessment model developed at Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
The description of the power generation sector in WITCH is quite detailed, but needs to be integrated, especially as far as the electric infrastructure downstream the power generation system is concerned. In the first half of the project, developed at the outgoing host, the modeling of the electric sector will thus be completed and refined. In particular, four main aspects need to be assessed: i) system integration (i.e. the issues related to the non-negligible penetration of intermittent renewables in the grid), ii) electricity storage, iii) electrical grid, and iv) electricity trade.
In the second half of the project, developed at the return host, the improved WITCH model will be employed in scenario assessment calculations. Firstly, the prospects in Europe of renewables, CCS and nuclear will be analysed. In particular, attention will be focused not so much on the pure technology aspects, but rather on policy issues such as the role of incentives in renewable diffusion, the slow CCS deployment, or the effects of the nuclear reactors ageing, or of their phase-out. Secondly, the focus will move on assessing the role of these technologies (and the consequent evolution of the electric infrastructure) according to different mitigation scenarios, and in particular considering different levels of global participation in EU-led climate mitigation.

Related areas
Integrated assessment of climate, energy and environmental policies
This research area elaborates integrated modeling tools for environmental assessment with a strong economic component to answer key environmental policy issues....
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