Associate Professor, Aalborg University

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Electric Roads

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Electric Roads

I published a journal article outlining the economic viability of electric roads in 2017 in the journal of Energy Strategy Reviews.     To date, I have also published two reports about electric reports: Version 1: RoadRail 2012 Report Version 2: eRoad 2016 Report Version 1 from 2012 was published before any major developments in conductive electric roads, so the cost and performance of electric roads are based on technologies which have similar characteristics such as electric trams and transmission lines. In version 2, a more in depth analysis was carried out since new data became available about electric roads. A brief overview of the concept is provided in the video below, followed by a summary of version 2 and the key messages from the study.   Affordability of Electric Roads (4 mins)   Brief Overview of the Concept and Study (14 mins)   Summary: Version 2, eRoads This study compares electric roads with oil (petrol and diesel) and battery electric vehicles, using Denmark as a case study. Electric roads can reduce the cost of electric vehicles by supplying them with electricity directly from the road rather than via a battery for long-distance journeys. In this paper, an electric road scenario is compared to both an oil and battery electric vehicle scenario using the 2010 Danish energy system, but for two sets of costs: one set based on historical costs from the year 2010 and one based on projected costs for the year 2050. The results indicate that electric roads are more expensive than oil today, but they will be cheaper than oil in 2050. Furthermore, electric roads are cheaper than Battery Electric Vehicles in all of the scenarios considered here, which indicates that the upfront investment required to build the electric roads is less than the additional battery capacity required for electric vehicles if they are not installed. The electric road and battery electric vehicle scenarios are more efficient and produce less carbon dioxide emissions than their corresponding oil scenarios for two key reasons: 1) the vehicles are more efficient and 2) electric vehicles enable more renewable electricity to be integrated onto the electricity grid. This is particularly evident in 2050, since the price of fossil fuels increases while the price of renewable electricity and batteries decreases. Finally, the electric road scenarios can facilitate more reductions in the energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions, since they also enable heavy-duty transport to be electrified such as trucks and buses. It is unlikely that these forms of transport will be electrified without electric roads, due to the relatively high cost of on-board battery storage.   Key Messages: Version 2, eRoads All Figures and Tables referred to here are in the full report. Transport is the Largest Part of the Energy System Transport demand is increasing: it increased by almost 50% from 1980-2010 in Denmark. The renewable energy penetrations achieved to date in transport are relatively low: Denmark has a renewable energy share of over 50% in electricity and heating, but only 5% in transport. Vehicles are the most expensive component in the energy system: in 2010, vehicles account for ~45% of the annual energy system costs in Denmark which equates to ~€10 billion/year (see Figure 3). Transport is the most expensive sector in the energy system: in 2010, the transport...

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Smart Energy Europe

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Smart Energy Europe

In this study, I quantified the impact of one potential transition for Europe from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, based on the Smart Energy System approach. This project was carried out in collaboration with the European Commission. Below is a short video about the study along with some links to the various publication formats: Final Report Journal Paper (In Press, Uncorrected Proof) Conference Paper   Smart Energy Europe: Video Summary (5...

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Transport Fuels for 100% Renewable Energy

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I have just published a new article describing and comparing various different transport fuels which are suitable for a 100% renewable energy system. You can read the journal paper or watch the video below to find out more. For those that do not have access to ScienceDirect, the paper is freely available here until the 28th of September...

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Onshore Wind is the Cheapest form of Electricity Production

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Current studies concluding that onshore wind power is the cheapest (or one of the cheapest): My own calculations: Limerick-Clare Energy Plan (see Figure 1, page vii) Portugal’s Electricity Utility EDP Danish Energy Agency [Report in Danish] Fraunhofer ISE IRENA (Page 15. The cheaper natural gas is based on gas prices for the...

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Green Plan Ireland

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Green Plan Ireland

Green Plan Ireland is based on a peer-reviewed scientific paper I published in the International Journal of Sustainable Energy Planning and Management, which outlines how Ireland can transition to a 100% renewable energy system without increasing the costs of energy, but while creating 100,000 additional jobs at the same time. The key steps required in a 100% renewable energy system are: Expanding electricity production from onshore wind, offshore wind, and solar panels Converting the heat supply in Irish cities from gas boilers to district heating Converting the individual boilers in the rural areas from coal and oil to electric heat pumps Converting our cars from petrol and diesel to electricity Producing liquid and gaseous fuels from a combination of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, which are known as synthetic fuels Here you can download: A Brief Summary The Green Plan Ireland report (in pdf format) An energy flow diagram for the the 100% renewable energy scenario proposed (see links below) The Computer Models used in the Study   Presentation of Green Plan Ireland In this video, I present the Green Plan Ireland study, which outlines how Ireland can transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050. The event was kindly hosted by the IIEA in March 2016.   Energy Flow Diagram (Download in Pdf or PNG format) The energy flow diagram provided here represents the flow of energy in the 100% renewable energy scenario proposed in Green Plan Ireland. As emphasised in the study, this should be viewed as one potential 100% renewable energy scenario for Ireland and not as an ‘optimum’ scenario. An energy flow diagram is available for a more optimised 100% renewable energy scenario from the CEESA project, which focused on Denmark (see Figure 3.13 on page 57 of the main report). CEESA was a five-year research project involving more than 20 researchers across 7 different university departments or research institutions in Denmark, so the analysis is much more detailed than in Green Plan Ireland. Therefore, this energy flow diagram is over simplified compared to reality so that it is easier to understand, both in its design and its presentation. A detailed eneryg flow diagram is provided for the synthetic/electrofuels explicitly in the Green Plan Ireland study and in this journal article....

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Wind Power and Pylons: Adding Facts to an Emotional Debate

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Wind Power and Pylons: Adding Facts to an Emotional Debate

The debate around wind power and pylons seems to have taken on a life of its own in Ireland in recent months. There also seems to be a lot of references to wind power and Denmark in the debate, which is very interesting to hear considering my experiences in both countries (I completed my PhD in Ireland on energy planning and I moved to Denmark in 2011 to take up my current job as an Assistant Professor in Energy Planning). Therefore, I would like to add some context to the ‘wind=pylons’ debate in Ireland, based on my experiences with both the Irish and Danish energy systems.   So what are pylons really for? The reason we are discussing pylons in Ireland is to expand the capacity of the electricity grid. This is necessary for a number of short- and long-term reasons. In brief, a few examples I can think of are 1) electricity demand, 2) aging infrastructure 3) wind turbines, 4) new electricity demands for heating and 5) electric cars. Hence, with or without wind turbines, we will need to decide how we would like to expand our electricity grid.   Are there any alternatives to pylons? Yes, the alternative to pylons are underground cables.   How much will the alternative cost? Underground cables cost more to construct than overhead pylons, with this report suggesting that it is 3 times more expensive (see page 61). There is a justified argument that these additional construction costs can be counteracted by the reduced visual impact of the cables. For example, the cables can reduce property prices and tourism to an area. However, these are difficult costs to quantify and I am not aware any study that has done so.   Is it possible to develop wind power without pylons? Yes. Wind power is not directly connected to overhead pylons. Denmark has the world’s largest percentage of wind power and the plan in Denmark is to underground its electricity grid using cables. Denmark is planning to underground 75% of its electricity grid in the future, see page 16 of this report and look under the headings “track” in table 5.1.1., while the other aim in Denmark is to have 50% wind power for electricity production by 2020. To put this in context, the aim in Ireland is to have 40% wind power in 2020. This means that under existing plans, Denmark will have more wind power with underground cables in 2020, than Ireland will have with overhead pylons.   How much will it cost to develop underground cables? Although the construction price of cables is more than pylons, the relative cost of cables is low compared to the rest of the electricity sector. For example, the price to use cables for 75% of the electricity grid in Denmark is ~€2 billion in total. These cables typically last 40 years, so in annual terms you could say that these cables cost ~€50 million/year. In comparison, we spend more than €2000 million/year on producing electricity in Ireland. Therefore, undergrounding the cables represents a relatively low percentage of the total costs to generate electricity (~2-3%).   How much does wind power cost? Wind power in Ireland is cheap. Onshore wind turbines in Ireland can produce electricity cheaper than any other type of power plant. This...

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Smart Energy Systems

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Smart Energy Systems

A Smart Energy System is defined by the following key principals: It is a 100% renewable energy system It consumes a sustainable level of bioenergy It utilises the synergies in the energy system to maximise efficiency and reduce costs It is affordable. In other words, it does not significantly increase the cost of energy compared to a fossil fuel based energy system (sometimes it can reduce the cost and maximum increases of up to 10-15% are expected) We have just updated the description and literature relating to the Smart Energy System in the Sustainable Energy Planning Research Group. Check it out here: http://www.energyplan.eu/smartenergysystems/. This includes video I created describing the key principals in a Smart Energy System:...

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US-DK Summer School 2014

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US-DK Summer School 2014

California And Denmark Are Leading The World In Renewable Energy Solutions Workshop Dates: July 21-August 15, 2014 Apply Now or Find Out More Eligibility Graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Must be enrolled in a university at time of application. Must have completed an introductory renewable course (similar to EE80J at UC Santa Cruz; see website).   The challenges posed by global climate changes, scarce natural resources, and the volatility of the international energy market require targeted action towards finding technologically, economically and socially viable solutions based on renewable energy (RE) sources. The US-Denmark Summer Workshop on Renewable Energy is a unique educational initiative developed by leading universities in Denmark and California. The four-week workshop starts with one week of online preparation and continues with three weeks of lectures, seminars and field trips in California. Participants will learn about the economics, politics, science, and technology behind RE implementation from leading experts, while exploring communities and relevant energy sites where such technology is in place or currently being implemented. The interdisciplinary approach and holistic perspective allows students with various academic backgrounds to interact and develop concrete final project ideas, while targeting today’s energy problems from different...

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100% Renewable Energy for Denmark

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100% Renewable Energy for Denmark

This summary presents the main results of applying the tools and methodologies developed in the CEESA project to the design and implementation of 100% renewable energy systems in Denmark before 2050. It is found that the transition from the present energy system dominated by fossil fuels to a system dominated by renewable energy sources requires significant changes in existing policies on both supply and demand sides. This is a change from polluting energy systems dependent on depleting inputs to energy systems that depend on non-depleting inputs and which are relatively abundant, non-polluting and intermittent. In order to succeed, such change requires the system based on renewables to be supported by strong and efficient energy conservation. In Denmark, wind power and biomass are expected to be the two dominant resources in the short and medium term perspectives. In order to ease the pressure on wind and biomass resources, energy conservation becomes essential and so does the inclusion of contributions from additional sources such as solar and geothermal energy. The change requires infrastructure where intermittent renewable energy sources can be managed in such a way that energy is available at the right time and in the right amount for the consumers. A main challenge for the transition planning is to obtain an efficient co-ordination between investments in the electricity, transportation, and heat sectors.  The policy instruments include new systems of taxes, subsidies, tariffs, and other economic conditions in order to obtain an optimal effect. One main problem is to assure an energy-efficient use of low-temperature sources from CHP, waste incineration, industrial surplus heat and geothermal energy. In this relation, a new generation of low-temperature district heating infrastructure becomes essential. Another part of the main problems in a future energy system dominated by intermittent renewable sources (e.g. wind and solar energy) is the stability of the electric grid and the security of supply to electricity consumers. In this connection, biomass in different forms plays a central role as a storage element. However, biomass is also required in the transport sector and for high-temperature industrial process heat (transformed to a liquid fuel or to biogas) while the amount of Danish biomass, taking into account other uses of the land area, is rather limited. In this respect, it becomes important to use the existing natural gas grid including substantial gas storage capacity in order to distribute and store biogas and syngas in future renewable energy systems. The CEESA project presents a technical scenario towards 2050 that achieves the specified goal with emphasis on infrastructures of transport and electricity supply as well as district heating. The CEESA scenario proposes that the best solution is to let electricity from wind power replace the demand for biomass where possible and to stabilise the grid by other means than biomass where relevant alternatives are available. These means include systematic use of heat pumps and heat storage, eventually combined with electric cars.  In addition, new and efficient communication systems between energy suppliers and consumers are required, often described as “intelligent grids” or “smart grids”. The proposed policy means are selected in accordance with these technological solutions. The CEESA project has documented that it is possible to find technical solutions for a 100 % renewable energy system that meets the required conditions with a satisfactory societal economy. However a certain...

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Heat Roadmap Europe 2050

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Heat Roadmap Europe 2050

Heat Roadmap Europe is the first study on the EU27 scale which combines geographical mapping of energy demand and supply in unprecedented detail with detailed energy system modelling. Heat Roadmap Europe identifies the potential for using local resources across Europe, and subsequently applies this in the EU27 energy system. The final report will be launched at the 36th Euro Heat and Power Congress in Vienna on the 27th March 2013, and results are recommendations for a redesign of the European heat supply. In 2009 the European Council made the objective for the EU to decarbonise its energy system to at least 80% below the 1990 level by 2050, without affecting general economic growth. A number of measures and technologies could contribute to these goals. A scenario which achieves these goals is the Energy Efficiency scenario in the Energy Roadmap 2050 report by the European Commission. The Heat Roadmap Europe scenario proposed here achieves these same CO2 reduction, but at a lower cost. Lowering the energy consumption in buildings is essential. However here we combine heat savings in the buildings with higher energy efficiency by expanding district heating in the future heat supply in the EU27. Local conditions are considered using geographical information systems (GIS) and combined with hour-by-hour energy system analyses for the EU27, which enables us to find a robust strategy to increase competitiveness, integrate more renewables and reduce the risks in the energy supply. By analysing heat savings and energy efficiency, by investigating local conditions, and by making energy system analyses we are able to identify a balance between heat savings and key infrastructural changes in the energy supply. The findings in the Heat Roadmap Europe can be summarised into three key messages.   Increasing Competitiveness in Europe First of all we are able to Increase the economic competitiveness of the EU27. In Heat Roadmap Europe we have compared our results both to the current energy supply as well as to the implementation of the European Commission’s Energy Efficiency scenario (EU-EE).  By refining the EU-EE scenario, we are able to decarbonise to the same level while saving B€100/year, corresponding to 15% lower costs for the total heating and cooling supply for buildings. We achieve this by proposing an enhanced energy efficiency scenario (HRE-EE), which has significant heat demand reductions, combined with lower heat losses and more renewable energy in the energy supply. This ensures that the cost burden on European citizens and businesses is comparably lower with Heat Roadmap Europe, which enables stronger economic development in the EU and provides a more competitive business environment.   Recycling heat losses and expanding renewables Secondly Heat Roadmap Europe creates a Pathway for heat recycling and more renewable energy, by ensuring that we can increase the penetration of renewable energy in both the heat sector and the electricity sector. In HRE-EE we re-design the heat supply in the EU27 by quantifying the benefits of using individual heat pumps and district heating, in combination with energy savings and renewable energy. Currently about half of the primary energy in the EU27 is lost in the conversion from the primary energy supply to the end use. District heating makes it possible to recycle heat that would otherwise be wasted. The new infrastructure and redesign of the heating and cooling supply presented here enables...

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