The overall aim of NorENS project was to investigate the impacts of the ongoing European energy transition to the Norwegian energy system. The project has emphasized to address (a) uncertainty related to the future power market development, (b) solutions that can ensure energy system flexibility with high shares of renewables and (c) impacts of different energy and climate policies that may be applied to reach EU climate targets. The following key messages summarize the project results.
1 Immerse need for emission-free technologies
The European energy transition requires accelerating growth in emission free power generation. In addition to the substitution of the current fossil-fuel based generation, additional demand will rise from direct electrification of heating, transportation and industry processes and from production of green hydrogen. Our modelling studies show that decarbonizing the current heating system alone increases the electricity demand by one-third, and that the overall direct and indirect electrification of all sectors can potentially lead to 4 times today?s demand by 2050. The future electricity demand from heating and hydrogen production are two major wild cards in the long-term projections.
2 Act to ensure flexibility
Integrating renewables in the system requires flexibility. NorENS has assessed various flexibility solutions and their competition under a range of climate ambitions. As concluded in several deep decarbonization studies, electrification is a cost-effective and climate-friendly strategy, and the paradigm in the electricity system may shift from flexible generation meeting inflexible demand to flexible demand meeting inflexible generation. Regulated hydro power will become even more valuable to the energy system as wind- and solar power shares rise. In addition, more interconnectors, use of flexible heating systems and demand response from temperature adjustments in space and water heating are among the main solutions to ensure future energy system flexibility. A deeper coupling of the power and heating sector will strongly increase the need for long-term flexibility.
3 Policies ? support transition but ensure public support
The price of CO2 is one of the major and unpredictable power price drivers, but the carbon market will likely be supplemented with additional policies to spur the transition ? for example phase-out programmes, renewable energy support and incentives for faster electrification. A qualitative comparison study of the Germany and UK coal phaseout policies revealed that the focus of just transition would depend on the interaction between the politically powerful stakeholders and the government during the policy process. While just transition of the coal phaseout in Germany received more attention than in UK, the transition in UK away from gas will likely gain more attention than from coal.
Increased electricity trade between European countries may cause increasing electricity prices in exporting countries, which in turn may form a significant barrier for a fast and cost-effective transition. Handling distributional such distributional effects and ensuring a just transition will become even more crucial for a successful transition during the 2020-ies and beyond.
4 Prioritize resolving land-use conflicts
Some renewable technologies are facing challenges related to their social acceptance, despite their climate friendliness. For wind and solar power, the concerns over land-use conflicts and environment might eventually overwhelm the technologies? climate-friendliness or cost-effectiveness and cause opposition from the society, leading to project delays or cancelation. In NorENS, we have identified offshore wind power and nuclear energy as the most likely alternatives to reduce land use. Turning to these solutions imply, however, very high costs per saved land, and it increases substantially the uncertainty in reaching climate goals on time.
5 Timing is everything
Norway is placed in a unique role in the ongoing energy transition, thanks to its well-functioning power market, regulatable hydropower, good wind energy resources and its large area with moderate populations. NorENS Includes three long term market analyses using a probabilistic approach. One of these suggests that relatively small amounts of Norwegian offshore wind power will be profitable without subsidies or significant cost reduction. Radial connection to Norway gives low market values, while hybrid connection gives the highest. The other two studies focus on the Nordic power prices and renewable market values in 2040, based on the published outlooks and a survey of experts? views, respectively. The survey showed stronger interests on electricity demand growth than the reviewed outlooks. The results show that the solar PV and offshore wind power will unlikely be commercially viable without supports. Regulatable hydropower receives high value factors consistently.
The project results have been widely disseminated through both scientific and popular science articles and presentations to national and international experts, policy makers and stakeholders. The probabilistic approach and the modelling to generate alternatives method can be applied to future research to address uncertainties and the non-techno-economic aspects, which are of increasing interests of sustainability. The project has trained new competence in the energy system modelling field, including a post-doc and two PhDs. The long-term market value assessments of renewable technologies are useful information for investors and regulators. The value of these results is shown in the large interest the project results meet among policy makers and the energy sector.
The European energy transition, which is largely driven by national energy policies, causes more intermittent power supply and hence increased need for energy system flexibility. Norway has large amounts of flexible hydro power and unexploited wind resources and are increasingly affected by this transition through increased market integration. The Norwegian renewable energy sector may thus to a larger degree both benefit from, and contribute to, the European energy transition. At the same time, Norwegian energy regulators and system operators need to account for challenges posed by the future intermittent supply in their energy planning.
There are large uncertainties related to the technological and regulatory development of the European energy system, which in turn affect markets and the economy of renewable energy. The NORENS project will assist Norwegian stakeholders in making robust strategies and investments to achieve potential benefits and avoid negative impacts of future developments of the North European (N-E) electricity markets and energy policies by:
1)Explore technological and market driving forces and associated uncertainties in the N-E energy system
2)Identify likely national energy policy developments in N-E
3)Asses the economic and regulatory implications of the European energy transition to the Norwegian energy system
NORENS develops and applies a multidisciplinary research strategy that combines technical analysis and analysis of market and policy frameworks with energy system modelling that quantifies impacts. NORENS will develop novel energy sector modelling techniques that couple the power, heat, gas and transportation sectors and are designed to assess the economic, political and technological uncertainty in the development of future energy systems. NORENS consist of leading researchers in energy economics and policy at NMBU and CICERO, supported by three international researchers and strong analytical competence among the user partners.