LUT University’s database used for Wärtsilä’s interactive map on 100% renewable electricity systems

Research collaboration between LUT University and the technology group Wärtsilä has resulted in an extensive interactive map on cost-optimal, 100% renewable electricity systems globally.

Solar panels on LUT campus rooftops

The open access map, recently published on Wärtsilä's website, provides valuable information on the potential of renewable energy in relation to geographical regions and their renewable resources, in particular solar and wind conditions.

LUT University has gathered extensive data on global power systems since 2014. LUT's research team lead by Christian Breyer, Professor for Solar Economy, carries out world leading research on modelling the energy transition on an hourly level. This research includes not only electricity generation and storage technologies, but also covers the energy demand by industries, transportation and for heat and desalination. The basis of the research is to show technically feasible and economically viable pathways to a carbon neutral global energy system by 2050, which is continuously published.

Based on an agreement to access LUT's database, Wärtsilä has now modelled 145 countries and regions of the world in one hour dispatch granularity to provide an illustrative guide as to the cost-optimal potential of 100% renewable electricity system if they were to be built from scratch.

"Wärtsilä and LUT have an ongoing collaboration to research 100% renewable energy systems. We are happy to support Wärtsilä in developing their modelling approach to serve their existing and new customers all around the world", says Christian Breyer.

The results of the Wärtsilä-LUT modelling work reveal the importance of a wider technology mix and different types of flexibility in highly renewable power systems. The importance of long-term flexibility in 100% renewable systems is highlighted in cost-optimal scenarios, where power-to-X provides synthetic fuel for flexible gas generation, and short-term flexibility is provided by battery energy storage.

This cost-optimal system is compared to an alternative scenario where only wind, solar and battery energy storage systems are built. The differences in capacity build needs and system costs are highlighted.

"The benefit of this map is that it provides a picture of how systems using only renewable sourced energy can look like, and how much different types of capacities are required for 100% renewable electricity systems. It shows the role that different technologies have in power systems, and how they work together", says Matti Rautkivi, Director, Strategy and Business Development, Wärtsilä Energy Business.

In addition to energy systems modelling, LUT and Wärtsilä have an extensive ongoing research cooperation in e.g. electrical drives and control in the marine sector, and several topics related to power-to-X-technologies and it's applications.

Pathways to a carbon neutral global energy system are built in collaborations

Breyer's team's most recent collaboration study deals with a 100% renewable scenario for Europe to reach a climate-neutral energy system. This could be even achieved before 2050 in an ambitious scenario to fulfill the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.

The new study with SolarPower Europe represents the latest fundamental insights on comprehensive sector integration based on low-cost renewable electricity. This enables a zero greenhouse gas emission system for Europe, which does not only cost less than the present energy system, but also less than a pathway with more emissions.

Breyer emphasises: "The least cost solutions are based on electricity from renewables as the major energy carrier used for a broad electrification of energy demand. Indirect electrification in the form of renewable electricity based hydrogen and subsequent hydrogen-to-X applications for hard-to-abate segments, such as marine and aviation fuels, places hydrogen as the second most important energy carrier."

Further information:

Christian Breyer, Professor for Solar Economy, LUT University.
Phone: +358 50 443 1929, christian.breyer@lut.fi

Matti Rautkivi, Director, Strategy & Business Development, Wärtsilä Energy Business
Phone: +358 40 4803743, matti.rautkivi@wartsila.com 

Link to the Atlas of 100 % renewable energy

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