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Berenschot presents system issues in energy transition for climate round tables consultation process

11 June 2018

In support of the ongoing consultation process of the climate round tables, Berenschot researched the system issues relating to the energy system up to 2030 and 2050. The research was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate.

The first part of the report contains an analysis of various future scenarios for 2030 and 2050 prepared by various organisations. Aside from common elements, such as increased electrification and more renewable sources, the scenarios often differ in terms of the basic assumptions. For example, there are scenarios that still include power plants powered by imported biomass or clean fossil fuel (combined with CCS) and scenarios that assume even more solar and wind energy, with hydrogen as backup. This results in highly divergent estimates of the required production park, which in all cases increases considerably in comparison to today, but with a significant spread depending on the scenario and the underlying assumptions.

Despite all this, all scenarios forecast only a limited growth in annual electricity demand. This is due to the energy-efficient equipment and because many electrification options, such as heat pumps and electric transport, generate increased electricity demand, but are nevertheless far more efficient than current facilities.

In the second part of the report, Berenschot simulates two scenarios for 2030 and 2050. This simulation shows that already by 2030, renewable capacity requires significant flexibility, which could go together with shortages. If these shortages are of short duration (several hours to one day), the peaks in electricity demand could be absorbed domestically through power plants and flexible demand. This will not work for shortages of a week or longer and means we will probably become dependent on the import of power from abroad. Such situations are expected to primarily occur during winter cold spells with no winds, which results in major electricity demands by heat pumps, but without the supply of power from renewable sources. Because such shortages can also occur abroad for the same reason, Berenschot recommends that consultation on this subject be at the international level. The 2050 simulations show even greater variations and potential shortages.

Power shortages can be avoided through hybrid electrification, however, so that in peak or shortage situations it is possible to fall back on (green) gas, or by making the demand for heating sustainable using other (non-electrification) options such as heating networks and geothermal energy, and heat storage.

On the basis of this analysis, Berenschot has formulated additional questions for a follow-up study.

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