Europe and Denmark is facing major investments in our energy system. The long-term challenge is to switch to 100 percent renewable energy in a way that society can afford. 17 key energy players are now joining forces to redesign the energy system in a more sustainable direction. Innovation Fund Denmark is investing 2.28 million euro in the project called RE-Invest.
Today, renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are destined to become one of tomorrow’s cheapest sources of electricity. To take advantage of these energy resources, it is important that they interact with the rest of the energy system and across national borders. The message from researchers is that in the future, the entire energy system will be integrated across the electricity, heat and transport sectors.
The EU has a political objective to reduce carbon emissions by 80% in 2050. In Denmark, the aim is to be free of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas in 2050. In a new project, partners from very different parts of the energy system, in conjunction with Aalborg and Aarhus Universities, aim to find answers that go far beyond the individual sector or technology and that can make the transition as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Without a coherent investment strategy, the result can be very costly for society.
“The vision is to create robust, cost-effective recommendations for investments that create jobs and growth for the renewable energy industry”, explained Brian Vad Mathiesen, Professor in Energy Planning at Aalborg University, head of the RE-Invest project and deputy head of 4DH. In the case of wind power, the power produced can be combined with technologies such as electrolysis and large-scale heat pumps that can benefit the district heating network and push out fossil fuels in transport using thermal and gas storages. If this is combined and balanced with energy savings, production capacities for electricity and heating can be reduced significantly.
“Most researchers and decision makers have traditionally viewed each energy sector individually, but what we are doing here is looking at the transition as a complete redesign of the entire energy system. This will allow us to see how we can exploit the synergies in the energy system as a whole”, said Brian Vad Mathiesen. The integrated energy system is a unique Danish approach that has attracted major international university partners to the project.
“At Stanford University, we have specific knowledge about grid stability that can benefit the project, while learning from Aalborg University’s holistic approach to the energy system. RE-Invest is extremely relevant for Stanford because its vision will allow collaboration and exchange of information with European partners, enabling more accurate and relevant studies of both Europe and the United States”, said Mark Z. Jacobson, Professor at Stanford University.
In conjunction with the partners in the energy industry, the researchers will identify the role of different key technologies. From this, they will be able to advise on investment strategies and provide knowledge to corporate research and development departments so they can develop technologies that fit future energy systems. “Our role in the project will be to explore how frequent data from smart meters can be used proactively to support decisions in the integrated energy system so energy production can be better planned in combination with renewable energy and how data can help energy efficiency as well as energy savings”, said Steen Schelle Jensen, Head of Product Management at meter manufacturer Kamstrup.
The partners in the project are: Aalborg University, Aarhus University, Østfold Research, Stanford University, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, Danfoss, the Danish District Heating Association, DONG Energy, EMD International, Energinet.dk, the Danish Energy Agency, Haldor Topsøe, HMN Naturgas, Kamstrup, MP Pension, Statkraft and Aalborg CSP.