Planning the optimal energy island

We have developed an innovative model enabling the planning of an optimal energy island. The model makes it possible to generate scenarios and explore how to plan for the maximum economic returns for investors and developers. By analyzing various scenarios we can assess how differing conditions might affect the island’s operations, capacity, investment, and profitability.

Correspondingly, the model can generate scenarios showing the optimal scale of production of various e-fuels such as hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, and kerosene. Likewise, we can probe the most cost-efficient solutions for the management of electricity transmission.

The model is the result of a master’s thesis that we have supervised. It’s developed using the TIMES modelling framework and diverges from the prevalent demand-driven approach by adopting a price-driven strategy.

North Sea Energy Island

As a case study, the master’s thesis explores the strategic development and optimization of a North Sea Energy Island. The Danish government is planning for several energy islands in the North Sea. The Energy Island project directly addresses the European Union’s imperative to boost energy security and diminish its dependence on
fossil fuel imports amidst evolving geopolitical and energy market dynamics.

The model employs an hourly resolution. It thus provides a detailed understanding of the island’s configuration and operations, enhancing the reliability of the results.

The developed model tool has proven reliable although some simplifications concerning the electricity market and transport operations were necessary. It can be integrated with other demand-driven studies to determine optimal operational strategies and future projections.


The findings indicate that Germany and Denmark are the most viable markets for exporting the island’s electricity. However, producing hydrogen for export to the Netherlands and Belgium appears to be the most lucrative option, given the high industrial demand and pricing in these regions.

The study also notes that producing other e-fuels on the island would be economically feasible only under specific conditions with sufficiently high prices. These results suggest that the island’s most effective role may be as a hydrogen hub.

Furthermore, using an hourly resolution has proven instrumental in understanding storage operations on the island and achieving more dependable outcomes.

Icon of modelling


We have developed a model of a North Sea energy island using the TIMES modelling framework.

Icon of scenario analysis


We have generated various scenarios and assessed how differing conditions might affect the island’s operations, capacity, investment, and profitability.

Icon of report/results


The research is part of a master’s thesis at Danish Technical University.

Institution: Danish Technical University, supervisor Kenneth Karlsson

MSc student: Francisco González Beltrán

EML-team:  Kenneth Karlsson, and Till ben Brahim

Duration: 2023-2024

Phasing out the Use of Biomass

The Danish District Heating Association has assigned us to analyze the impact of phasing out the use of biomass in district heating. We have explored three scenarios of phasing out, all by 2035. In the first scenario, a 50 percent reduction is implemented. In the second scenario, a 75 percent reduction is implemented. In the third scenario, the phasing out of the use of biomass is 100 percent complete.

The use of biomass is set to be replaced by heat pumps and electric boilers, fueled by electricity from solar and wind parks. Consequently, the electricity demand is set to increase. Simultaneously, the electricity production from the thermal plants is set to decrease. Therefore, the capacity of onshore wind and solar parks needs to increase correspondingly.

Our analysis focuses on answering three questions:

1. How big is the need for new capacities of heat pumps, electric boilers, and onshore wind and solar parks?

2. How big are the changes in yearly costs and what are the investment and sunk costs for the phase-out?

3. What will the phasing out mean for land use?


A key factor is the replacement of costly biomass with sun and wind. Also, the life expectancy of the technologies has an important impact on the results. Solar and wind parks have a life expectancy of 35 years while thermal plants have 25 years. Boilers and heat pumps have a life expectancy of 20 years.

Meanwhile, the electricity production of solar and wind parks is less efficient. Consequently, the capacity needs to be higher than the capacity of thermal plants. Yet, the operational costs of solar and wind parks, boilers, and heat pumps are significantly lower than those of thermal plants.

The land use differs considerably. Phasing out the use of biomass could lead to a reduction of more than 90 pct. Land prices thus have a considerable impact on the bottom line.

Client: Danish District Heating

EML Team: Ida Græsted Jensen, Julius Lindberg Steensberg

Duration: April-June, 2024

Budget: DKK 126,000

Modelling the Water-energy-food Nexus

photo of a sunflower field by small river

We are hosting and supervising PhD student Daniele Mosso for one year. Daniele Mosso is doing his PhD at Politecnico di Torino. He is focusing on developing tools to modelling the water-energy-food nexus. The objective is to answer the following question: To what extent can energy be produced without significantly harming natural resources and related sectors?

Daniele Mosso spent the initial period of his PhD examining the major factors affecting the sustainability of energy systems. He concluded that land use, or the consumption of natural resources, is a major issue.

Limitations of existing models

Meanwhile, the existing Energy System Optimization Models (ESOMs) have limitations concerning sustainability and environmental aspects. The limitations can be overcome in several ways. Based on his initial research, Daniele Mosso opted to develop a tool to represent the sectors of agriculture, forestry, and land use (AFOLU) in an ESOM. The tool should make it possible to account for land and water consumption and related emissions.

Subsequently, the research of Daniele Mosso is in line with a new research project Energy Modelling Lab launched recently. The aim is to develop a prototype module representing the AFOLU sector for the TIMES modelling framework. The TIMES model is an energy system optimization model.

Exploring a soft-linking methodology

Furthermore, Daniele Mosso plans to devote the last part of his PhD to exploring a soft-linking methodology. One possibility is direct coupling with an integrated assessment model (IAM) representing natural resources.

At Politecnico di Torino, Daniele Mosso is a member of the MAHTEP Group (Modeling of Advanced Heat Transfer and Energy Problems). It’s a research team established at the end of 2019.

Icon of modelling


We will develop a prototype module representing the AFOLU sector for the TIMES modelling framework.

Icon of scenario analysis


We will test scenarios of the impacts of the energy consumption of the AFOLU sector.

Icon of report/results


The research is part of a PhD to be finalized in 2026.

Institution: Politecnico di Torino, Professor Laura Savoldi

EML-team: Daniele Mosso, Ida Græsted Jensen

Duration: 2024-2025

Financing district heating projects

We have launched a research project on the challenges of financing district heating projects. The overall objective is the development of sustainable financial frameworks for key district heating market types. Our focus is analyzing fundamental structures within district heating finance. One major result will be identifying best practices.

The project will provide authorities, investors, and the scientific community with fundamental insight into sustainable finance’s role in district heating deployment. District heating is key to the green energy transition in the EU. Since the sector is set to grow so is the need for financing.

The research project is entitled “Financial Frameworks’ Impact on District Heating”. We are implementing it as a party to a four-country consortium (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and Sweden).

Challenges to district heating

District heating is a cost-effective and sustainable technology. Nonetheless, financing challenges pose a serious impediment to new projects. District heating projects are typically large-scale and require significant upfront investment. Therefore, it’s a difficult task to secure financing, particularly from the private sector.

Mainstream financing mechanisms to attract private capital are usually ill-suited for district heating. Subsequently, the development of district heating has historically relied heavily on public financing, such as grants, loans, and guarantees. In particular, this is the case in countries with a strong tradition of public ownership and control of energy infrastructure.


1. To understand and define district heating as an asset class. We will classify the various investment components into an asset class structure according to the standards in the investor community. Investors tend to hold portfolios of assets of varying character. Identifying the asset class of district heating allows investors to lower the threshold for investing in it.  

2. To establish a database of key financial characteristics.

3. To understand the impacts of financial frameworks on the deployment of district heating.

4. To provide recommendations on how investors in green energy can approach the district heating sector.

Donor:  IEA Technology Collaboration Programme on District Heating and Cooling 

Coordinator: Daniel Møller Sneum

Partners: Lund University and Halmstad University, Sweden, Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences, Germany, and Euroheat & Power, Belgium.

Lead: Energy Modelling Lab

Budget: USD 302,425

Duration: 2024-2026

Low Carbon Solutions for Azerbaijan

We are contributing to a project designating low-carbon solutions for Azerbaijan. The project result should be a Roadmap recommending relevant policies and technologies. The full title is “Low-Carbon Solutions in the Electric Power Sector of Azerbaijan Technical Assistance Project”.

Azerbaijan relies heavily on oil and gas, which has brought significant economic growth over the years. Oil, gas, and related petroleum products accounted for 91 percent of Azerbaijan’s total exports in 2022 and almost 48 percent of its GDP.  Likewise, in 2021, natural gas dominated the electricity generation mix (94 percent). It was followed by hydropower (4.6 percent), waste and biomass incineration (0.7 percent), and solar and wind (0.5 percent).

Meanwhile, there is a vast potential for solar and wind power that investors have already begun to develop.


Energy Modelling Lab carries out part of the energy systems modelling work for the project. Subsequently, we are updating and tailoring the TIMES-Azerbaijan model we have developed for the EU Commission in 2021. We are using the model to create three scenarios:

  • A Business As Usual (BAU) scenario reflects current and planned policies concerning low carbon penetration.
  • One scenario assumes high economic growth and targets carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • One scenario assumes low economic growth and targets carbon neutrality by 2050.

Stakeholder engagement

We have also been assigned to design and take charge of stakeholder engagement, consultation, and communications. The aim is to foster an understanding of the modelling approaches. The key stakeholders should reach and maintain agreement on scenario assumptions, and we should obtain the necessary feedback. The overall objective is to ensure the full capacity of ownership of the key stakeholders. Additionally, the Roadmap should be credible, robust, and functional.

Energy Modelling Lab has been subcontracted for the project by Tetra Tech. The project is implemented within the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development EBRD on technical support related to the development of the electric power sector of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Icon of modelling


We are updating and tailoring the TIMES-Azerbaijan model using the TIMES energy systems modelling framework.

Icon of scenario analysis


We are creating a business as usual (BAU) scenario and two scenarios targeting net zero for the energy sector by 2050.

course on energy modelling

Stakeholder engagement

We are taking charge of designing the consultation and communications to ensure the full ownership of key stakeholders.

Client: Tetra Tech

Donor: European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

EML Team: Kenneth Karlsson, Till ben Brahim, Andrea Radoszynski, Pernille Bramming

Duration: 2024-25

Budget: EURO 52,400

Developing scenarios for CONCITO

We have contributed to developing scenarios for CONCITO, a major Danish green think tank. CONCITO has analyzed the scenarios in the report The Importance of Agriculture for Future Land Use (Jordbrugets Betydning for Fremtidens Arealanvendelse), published in May 2024.

The scenarios represent different visions of land use in Denmark. The scenarios consider major concerns regarding sustainability, climate neutrality, and natural resources. 

Consequently, the scenarios explore the potential of a substantial increase in plant-based food production and a corresponding livestock decrease. The impact of such measures on the economy and the well-being of the Danish population has also been explored. 

The set target for the scenarios is to keep contributing to global food production on the present scale. The set target amounts to producing about 22 trillion kilojoules, feeding about 22 million people by 2050. 

Bio-Resources of Denmark 

We used the model for Denmark’s bioresources, DK-BioRes. Energy Modelling Lab developed this model for the Danish Energy Agency in 2021. We have updated and tailored the model to meet the needs of CONCITO. The model contains data on Denmark’s bioresources, i.e., agricultural land, forests, natural areas, and aquaculture. 

The model and the data sources used are available on GitHub

Based on the input on crop distribution, livestock, land distribution, and desired applied technologies that the model receives, it can analyze how biomass flows through a network of processes. The results include the final production, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Potential pathways 

The model can generate scenarios showing the pathway to a specific target. For the CONCITO scenarios, the set target is that the Danish agricultural sector keeps contributing to global food production on the present scale relative to the global population growth.

The scenarios generated show which kind and quantities of crops and livestock production could meet the target. They also show the land use needed. The non-edible bi-products such as straw are also included in the calculations of final material production. 

In general, the focus of CONCITO in transforming the food system is to ensure sufficient healthy food in the least space possible with the least greenhouse gas emissions and negative impact on nature, the environment, and animal welfare. 

During 2024, CONCITO is running the project Rethink Denmark with a special focus on land use.

Open-access model 

The DK-BioRes model was developed under the program of the Bioenergy Taskforce. The model is calibrated to use 2019 as the base year. The data used are from Statistics Denmark. For the CONCITO scenarios, data on calories for edible products have been added to the model. 

The DK-BioRes is built in Excel and is an open-access and open-source model. The model and the data sources used are available on GitHub

Energy Model Lab has also developed a new and updated version of the DK-BioRes model, tailored to meet requirements from the Climate Council. We handed the model over to the Climate Council in March 2024. 

Overview of the DK-BioRes model:


Documentation report

The documentation report on the scenarios, “The Danish Bio Ressource”, is available in Danish only.

Client: CONCITO 

Budget: DKK 160.000,00 

EML-team: Ida Græsted 

Duration: Spring 2024 

Hydrogen fuel cells in shipping

It’s necessary to ban the use of fossil fuels to complete the green transition in shipping. To put it short, this is the main finding of our research study: “Hydrogen fuel cells in shipping: A policy case study of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden”. The study resulted from a collaboration with colleagues in Iceland. It was published in the leading journal Marine Policy (May 2024).

The study aims to identify the policy instruments needed to accelerate the uptake of hydrogen fuel cells for the shipping industries in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Hydrogen fuel cells are promising for reducing emissions from shipping. However, their adoption is limited by high costs, lack of regulations, and lack of infrastructure. This is why there is a need for policies that spur investments in hydrogen fuel cells.

The three policy packages

Together with our fellow researchers, we tested three policy packages with different degrees of ambition (low, medium, and high). Our findings indicated that the proposed taxes on CO2 emissions and fossil fuels can help drive the transition away from fossil fuels. Meanwhile, the complete transition requires a ban on the use of fossil fuels.

The three policy packages were formulated based on discussions during workshops with key stakeholders from Nordic Shipping. During the workshops, we also learned that the participants are paying high attention to a “chicken and egg” paradox: Without the demand for green hydrogen, no supply, and vice versa. This has not been reflected in previous studies.

Correspondingly, a coordinated regional approach and cross-sector and cross-industry collaboration are needed. Otherwise, we cannot overcome the paradox and help balance the supply and demand for Nordic shipping


Icon of modelling


We used the TIMES-NEU model, an economic model generator for energy systems, to evaluate the three different policy packages. EML has developed the TIMES-NEU model.

Icon of scenario analysis


Estimated total fuel consumption in PJ/year; CO2 emissions by fuel in thousand tons of CO2 emissions/year; revenue from the tax on fossil fuels in million Euros/year; ferry segment fuel consumption in PJ/year.


The main finding was that policies are needed to spur investments. Meanwhile, it’s necessary to ban fossil fuels to complete the green transition of shipping.

Other scenarios included in the study show estimated CAPEX and OPEX in million Euros/year, estimated CAPEX and OPEX for the ferry segment in million, and estimated CAPEX and OPEX of the mandate of ferries to use hydrogen in comparison to the policy packages in million Euros/year.

The research study is part of the HOPE Project: The authors of the article are:
Mauricio Latapí, Brynhildur DavidsdottirDavid Cook, Lara Johannsdottir, MBA, Ph.D., Andrea Marin Radoszynski, and Kenneth Karlsson.

We are grateful for the financial support towards the HOPE project provided by the following organizations: the Nordic Energy Research, the Norwegian Research Council, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Icelandic Centre for Research, Business Finland, the Danish Energy Agency, Stena Rederi AB, and PowerCell Sweden AB.

Den grønne skibsfarts behov for brændstof

Ane Mærsk running on green fuel
Ane Mærsk running on green fuel

DR’s program 21 Søndag satte fokus på den grønne skibsfarts behov for brændstof i udsendelsen bragt den 11. februar. Energy Modelling Lab har udarbejdet de beregninger, som DR bygger udsendelsens hovedpointe på: Det er en kæmpe udfordring at opbygge produktionen af grønne brændstoffer og etablere forsyningslinjerne til den grønne skibsfart.

DR brugte Ane Mærsk som eksempel. Det er et spritnyt containerskib, der kan sejle på grøn metanol. For at lave grøn metanol nok til, at Ane Mærsk kan sejle i et år, skal der bruges strøm fra en solcellepark på størrelse med den i Kassø i Sønderjylland. Det viser vores beregninger. Solcelleparken i Kassø er Nordeuropas største.

Mærsk har som mål, at 25 pct. af virksomhedens flåde skal sejle på grønt brændstof i 2030. Hvis den sejler på grøn metanol, og strømmen skal leveres fra solcelleparker i Danmark, vil det kræve omtrent 120 parker af samme størrelse som Kassø.

Vi har anvendt Energistyrelsens teknologi katalog som grundlag for vores beregninger. Kataloget viser, hvor meget strøm forskellige teknologier kan antages at producere beregnet ud fra gennemsnit.

Alle vores beregninger

Alle vores beregninger kan nærstuderes i Excel arket:

Vi har beregnet areal-forbruget for seks forskellige former for produktion af grønt brændstof:

  • Første generation biobrændstof
  • Anden generation biobrændstof
  • Blanding af første og anden generation biobrændstof
  • Solcelleanlæg i Danmark
  • Solcelleanlæg i Marokko
  • Vindmølleparker i Nordsøen

Vi viser areal-forbruget som procentdele af følgende arealer:

Danmark, Falster, Langeland, Horns Rev3, Marokko, Danmarks landbrugsareal, Bhadla Solar Park (en af verdens største solcelleparker, som ligger i Indien), Amazonas og fodboldbaner.

Vi har beregnet areal-forbruget til produktion af grønt brændstof for henholdsvis Ane Mærsk, 25 pct. af Mærsk’ flåde, 100 pct. af Mærsk’ flåde og 100 pct. af den internationale skibsfart.

Solcelleparker i Marokko

I virkelighedens verden bliver det ikke i Danmark, at man opfører solcelleparker i stor skala til produktion af grøn metanol. Solcelleparker er mere effektive længere syd på. Derfor har vi også beregnet hvor stort et areal, der vil kræves, hvis man opfører solcelleparker i Marokko: I Marokko skal man bruge en 254 hektar stor solcellepark til at producere nok strøm til Ane Mærsk. Anlægget i Kassø fylder 326 hektar.

Til at forsyne 25 pct. af Mærsk’ flåde med grøn metanol, skal man opføre solcelleparker i Marokko, der svarer til 60 procent af Falsters areal. Det er målet for Mærsk, at hele virksomhedens flåde sejler på grønne brændstoffer i 2040. Det vil kræve solcelleparker på et areal svarende til to og en halv gang Falsters (247 pct.), hvis de vel og mærke opføres i Marokko.

Hvis vi tager arealet på en af verdens største solcelle-parker, nemlig Bhadla Solar Park i Indien, så får Mærsk brug for produktionen af strøm fra 22 parker af Bhadla’s størrelse. Bhadla Solar Park dækker et areal på 5700 hektar.

Hvis hele den internationale skibsfart skal sejle på grøn metanol, skal der produceres strøm svarende til knap 740 solcelleparker af Bhadla’s størrelse.

Forsyning fra havvindmøller

Hvis hele den internationale skibsfart skal sejle på grøn metanol, vil det kræve lige så meget strøm, som omtrent 3290 havvindmølleparker kan producere. Denne beregning har som forudsætning, at havvindmølleparken har samme størrelse og ydeevne som Horns Rev3 i Nordsøen. Vi har valgt at bruge Horns Rev3 i Nordsøen, fordi det er en af verdens mest effektive vindmølleparker.

Grøn metanol fra biobrændstoffer

Hidtil har grønne brændstoffer primært være produceret på planter som majs, sojabønner og raps. Det kaldes for første generation biobrændstof. Mærsk fravælger at bruge den type brændstof. Hvis hele den internationale skibsfart skulle sejle på første generation biobrændstof fremstillet på sojabønner, skulle man hvert år høste et areal på størrelse med mere end halvdelen af Amazonas.

Det er også muligt at bruge restprodukter som sojahalm til at lave biobrændstof. Det betegnes som anden generation biobrændstof.

Hvis hele Mærsk’ flåde skulle sejle på anden generations biobrændstof fremstillet på sojahalm, skulle man hvert år høste fra et areal svarende til mere end det dobbelte af Danmarks areal. Hvis hele verdens flåde skulle sejle på denne type biobrændstof, skulle man høste på et areal svarende til næsten 74 gange Danmarks areal.

Relateret video og artikler på DRs hjemmeside

Nu kommer Mærsks grønnere skibe sejlende

Søfarten omstiller sig i sneglefart

Video explainer: Så meget plads kræver fremtidens grønne skibe


Duration: February 2024

EML Team: Ida Græsted and Kenneth Karlsson

Partnership model for municipalities

Kenneth Karlsson make a presentation
Kenneth Karlsson make a presentation

How can local authorities mitigate resistance from citizens to new renewable energy plants and facilities? In a new report, a partnership model for municipalities is presented as a solution. The model is the result of a two-year project, The Future Green Energy and the Citizens, launched by the Danish Board of Technology and Deltager Danmark (Participation Denmark).

The model divides the process of developing partnerships into five phases. The centerpiece is to establish a local dialogue forum with representatives of all local stakeholders. When organized and tailored to the local community culture, a process of dialogue can ensure local ownership and legitimacy. Correspondingly, such a process has the merit of contributing to more informed and better decisions, efficient use of resources, and innovative solutions. Most importantly, it saves time because the stakeholders have opportunities to iron out misunderstandings and conflicts.

Citizen summits

The project took place in the municipalities of Kalundborg, Vordingborg, and Holbæk. The local citizens have been engaging in meetings such as “citizen summits”. We contributed as independent experts in energy planning. We have presented possible scenarios of the green transition of the local energy supply.

To give the participants a better sense of the implications, we have presented more detailed charts. One chart showed the land use needed to produce 1 million MWh by energy production facilities using respectively solar, wind, and biomass. Others explained the estimated increase in demand for electricity and the needed increase in production.

The title of the report means From Resistance to Tailwind

Project: Fremtidens Grønne Energi og Borgerne (“Future Green Energy and the Citizens”)

Duration: 2022-2023

ClientThe Danish Board of Technology

Budget: DKK 100,000

Contact person: Niels-Kristian Tjelle Holm

EML Team: Ida Græsted Jensen and Kenneth Karlsson

Speeding up Nordic Green Transition

Windmills on Bornholm
Windmills on Bornholm

We will be collaborating with Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish partners on a major research project entitled SpeedLocal. The aim is to speeding up the Nordic green transition. Together we will develop guidance tools for addressing the “not in my backyard” complexities and the challenges of integrating energy planning on the national level with implementation on the local level.

The research project is a transdisciplinary initiative. It engages experts in stakeholder engagement, policy analysis, landscape analysis, participatory processes, and energy system modelling. The final guidance tools will also reflect the results from three case studies: the Norwegian municipality of Trondelag, the Swedish municipality of Skaraborg, and the Danish municipality of Bornholm.

Emphasis on local values

In these places, the local authorities are in the process of implementing national energy policies. EML will focus on adapting the TIMES-Nordic energy system model to work on municipality levels. Also, we will work on the case study of Bornholm. Working closely together with Bornholm municipality, we will identify the barriers to green transition and strategies to overcome them.

An important dimension of the project is the emphasis on the values of local nature and landscapes. An overarching aim is thus to find ways to integrate local insights and considerations into the broader national and Nordic energy planning analyses. By doing so, the legitimacy and policy relevance could improve.

Icon of modelling


The TIMES-Nordic model will be adapted for local cases and integrate specific constraints

Icon of scenario analysis


The analysis of the results will be translated into a Strategy Kit that contains instructions and guidance.

Icon of report/results


The Strategy Kit can be utilized to formulate evidence-based policy recommendations.

Project: SpeedLocal

Duration: 2024-2026

Client: Nordic Energy Research

Programme: Nordic Grand Solutions Programme

Total budget: NOK 25 mio.

Project owner: Energiforsk AB

Reference: Lise Nielson, senior advisor, Nordic Energy Research

Partners: IVL, Institute for Energy Technology, LabLab, Luleå University of Technology,

VTT, Technical University of Denmark, Bornholm municipality, Skaraborg municipality, Vara municipality, Trondelag municipality

EML team:  Andrea Radoszynski, Ida Græsted Jensen and Till ben Brahim

Model: TIMES-Nordic