Least cost energy system pathways towards 100% renewable energy in Ireland by 2050

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Yue, Xiufeng
Patankar, Neha
Decarolis, Joseph
Chiodi, Alessandro
Rogan, Fionn
Deane, J. P.
Ó Gallachóir, Brian P.
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Elsevier B.V.
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Studies focusing on 100% renewable energy systems have emerged in recent years; however, existing studies tend to focus only on the power sector using exploratory approaches. This paper therefore undertakes a whole-system approach and explores optimal pathways towards 100% renewable energy by 2050. The analysis is carried out for Ireland, which currently has the highest share of variable renewable electricity on a synchronous power system. Large numbers of scenarios are developed using the Irish TIMES model to address uncertainties. Results show that compared to decarbonization targets, focusing on renewable penetration without considering carbon capture options is significantly less cost effective in carbon mitigation. Alternative assumptions on bioenergy imports and maximum variability in power generation lead to very different energy mixes in bioenergy and electrification levels. All pathways suggest that indigenous bioenergy needs to be fully exploited and the current annual deployment rate of renewable electricity needs a boost. Pathways relying on international bioenergy imports are slightly cheaper and faces less economic and technical challenges. However, given the large future uncertainties, it is recommended that further policy considerations be given to pathways with high electrification levels as they are more robust towards uncertainties.
100% Renewable energy , Electrification , Energy system optimization model , Uncertainty analysis
Yue, X., Patankar, N., Decarolis, J., Chiodi, A., Rogan, F., Deane, J. P. and O'Gallachoir, B. (2020) 'Least cost energy system pathways towards 100% renewable energy in Ireland by 2050', Energy, 207, 118264 (17pp). doi: 10.1016/j.energy.2020.118264