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.

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Modelling

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

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Scenarios

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

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Publication

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

Photo credit: Jacob Erle

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.

TIMES-Azerbaijan

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 targeting 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.

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Modelling

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

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Scenarios

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 

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.

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Modelling

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

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Analysis

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

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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

Agricultural and forestry sectors’ emissions

cows in a row

At present, the agricultural and forestry sectors’ emissions account for almost 20% of the total global emissions. Even so, these two sectors are largely neglected in the existing energy system modelling frameworks. There is simply no available data module to enable analyses. Meanwhile, we expect that our new research project will remedy this.

The research project is named Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use Sector Modeling in TIMES (AFOLU). The result should be a demo model of a new data module. The demo model will be standardized and flexible. Thus, it will enable energy system modellers to properly model factors such as the forest capacity of CO2 uptake. Other important factors could be the consequences of replacing crops for biofuel production or optimizing irrigation systems for instance.

Energy Modelling Lab will carry out the research project together with four partners: E4SMA, the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), University College Cork (UCC), and VITO. We expect to finalize the new module in 2025. We are receiving funding from The Energy Technology Systems Analysis Program, IEA-ETSAP.

Transformative step

Our project builds on ongoing work by Energy Modelling Lab and E4SMA to develop a demo version of the AFOLU module. The primary objective is to consolidate knowledge from various partners and create a standardized, flexible AFOLU module that can seamlessly integrate with any TIMES model.

The new module will enable the ETSAP community to conduct a more integrated, holistic scenario analysis. It will be possible to consider the dynamic interactions between energy systems and the AFOLU sector. Moreover, we see it as a transformative step toward enabling energy system modellers to address climate change impacts and designate pathways to sustainable, net-zero economies.

Duration: 2023-2025

Client: The Energy Technology Systems Analysis Program, IEA-ETSAP

Budget: Euro 68,000

Reference: Kathleen Vaillancourt

Partners: E4SMA, the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), University College Cork (UCC), and VITO

EML team: Kenneth Karlsson and Ida Græsted Jensen

Model: TIMES

Ancillary services costs in Sweden

illustration of ancillary services

We have been assigned by the Danish company Hybrid Greentech to develop a long-term forecast of ancillary services costs in Sweden. The forecast spans until 2050. At present, the electrification drive is inevitably leading to a surge in power demand. Consequently, a fundamental reconfiguration of our energy infrastructure is taking place. It must incorporate both intermittent renewables, flexible electricity demand, and the provision of ancillary services. 

So far, ancillary services have often been the unsung heroes of the power sector as these essential support systems ensure grid reliability. To make the forecast, we integrated and updated previous investigations into power production and demand. 

Potential innovative technologies

We took into consideration the production of green hydrogen in the Nordics. The flexibility of hydrogen production in the Nordics could be an important factor in the ancillary services market since a reduction of this production would most likely result in wider use of battery technologies. 

Potential innovative technologies could also have a high impact on the market for ancillary services. For example, the increasing number of electric vehicles means a large increase in power consumption. This increase, if managed flexibly, could potentially contain a total battery capacity of 250 GWh with a charging capacity of 50 GW. Such a capacity could support all the balancing requirements in all of Sweden if the potential is fully utilized. 

Electricity prices 

A long-term forecast of electricity production, consumption, and prices in Sweden was part of the analysis. In general, from 2020 to 2030 Sweden is expected to be a net exporter of electricity and from 2035 and onwards to be a net importer. Concerning consumption, an increase of about 80% in consumption from industry from 2020 to 2050 is expected. 

According to modelling results, the present price difference between the two Northern and the two Southern regions will decrease over time. 

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Modelling

We based our forecast of ancillary services costs on a qualitative assessment of research projects made by EML, assessing ancillary services markets in the TIMES models and other international research studies on the topic.

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Analysis

We analyzed future power demand, the flexibility of electricity-demanding technologies in the power spot market, and the development of renewable intermittent technologies based on the integrated assessment model TIMES-NEU, a comprehensive energy system model covering the entire Northern European energy system. 

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Results 

All results and calculations were presented in a comprehensive report to Hybrid Greentech. 

Duration: September 2023 

EML-Team: Mikkel Bosack Simonsen, Julius Lindberg Steensberg,  Kenneth Karlsson and Ida Græsted Jensen

Client: Hybrid Greentech 

Reference: Anton Osadchi

Models: TIMES-NEU and TIMES-DK 

Best locations of PtX plants

Iconic portray of PtX
Iconic portray of PtX

What could be the best locations for PtX plants in the Nordics? The answer to this question is one of the expected outcomes of the PtX Sector Coupling and LCA project. Energy Modelling Lab is collaborating with 13 partners. We are bringing our expertise in scenario analysis and advanced modelling to the project.

The PtX Sector Coupling and LCA project is part of the MissionGreenFuels partnership launched by the Danish Innovation Fund. The purpose of the project is twofold. The partners are working together on further developing existing energy systems and Life Cycle Assessment tools, methodologies, and models. The expected result is to create better ways to determine optimal ways of integrating PtX into the green transition.

Correspondingly, the partners are collaborating on using these models for assessments when it comes to defining the optimal locations of new PtX plants. This includes taking into consideration multiple factors such as grid capabilities, market forecasts, biomass, and carbon availability. Sector coupling and co-optimization of gas, electricity, hydrogen, and district heating are included as well. The models can generate different scenarios to be analyzed.

Our expertise

Energy Modelling Lab brings our expertise in using advanced mathematical models and modelling frameworks to the project, especially the use of the TIMES-NEU tool and model. Our assignment is to focus on describing sector coupling and potential synergies from the modelled scenarios. By analyzing the scenarios, we will clarify the optimal locations of PtX plants in Nordic countries in terms of cost-effectiveness.

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Modelling

Developing and updating the TIMES-NEU model.

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Scenario analyses

Analyze modelled scenarios to describe sector coupling and potential synergies.

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Results

A portfolio of projects where cross-fertilization across the individual projects is a priority to secure knowledge sharing, learning, and development.

Mission and vision

The vision of the MissionGreenFuels partnership is to contribute substantially to the decarbonization of the transport, aviation, and shipping sectors and to support Danish research, innovation, growth, job creation, and export potential within the field of green fuels.

The MissionGreenFuels partnership is one of the four Innomissions launched by the Danish Innovation Fund. Innomission is funded by the Danish Innovation Fund by a 700 million DKK grant from the Danish government and funds from the NextGenerationEU program.

Duration: 2023-2024

Client: Danish Innovation Fund

Budget: DKK 180,000

Reference: Professor Marie Münster, Danish Technical University

Collaborators: DTU MAN, DTU Compute, Aalborg University PLAN, Southern Denmark University (SDU), Alexandra Institute, EA Energy Analysis, PlanEnergi, EMD Industry, Energinet, Danfoss, Grundfos, Vestas, CIP Fonden

EML team: Kenneth Karlsson

Model: TIMES-NEU

Supporting the Council on Climate Change

Energy Modelling Lab is updating and handing over the Danish Bioresource Model

Energy Modelling Lab is supporting the Danish Council on Climate Change. We are updating and handing over the Danish Biomass Resource Model, DK-BioRes, that we developed a few years ago. DK-BioRes is a flow-based model, It contains all Danish biomass resources from agriculture, forestry and aquaculture. The updated model will feature several technologies that are used to reduce carbon emissions and nitrification. As part of the project, we are building up the capacities of the staff at the Council so that they can use the model themselves.

With the DK-BioRes model at hand, The Danish Council on Climate Change can develop comprehensive scenarios of climate neutrality when it comes to land use, yield and emissions from agriculture, aquaculture and forestry. They can integrate the use of biomass and consumer behaviour in the scenario. The project is thus enhancing the capacities of the Council to provide suggestions for cost-effective climate policy solutions.

Building DK-BioRes

MODELLING

Energy Modelling Lab is updating the flow-based model DK-BioRES that we have developed. The model features all Danish biomass resources from agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture.

The model can generate scenarios of the impact of different strategies and of increasing the use of a range of technologies such as manure acidification and air cleaning to reduce carbon emissions.

CAPACITY BUILDING

Energy Modelling Lab trains the staff of the Danish Climate Council on updating and using the model to develop scenarios. We also include training on quality assurance of the scenarios.

By the end of the project, we are handing over the DK-BioRES Model to the Danish Climate Council assuring full ownership by the staff.


Duration: May – November 2023

EML Team: Ida Græsted Jensen and Kenneth Karlsson

Client: The Danish Council on Climate Change

Budget: DKK 320.000

Reference: Bodil Harder

Model: The Danish Bioressource Model (DK-BioRes)

Viet Nam to reach net-zero emissions

Viet Nam is making headways in planning for the energy sector and is heading to reach net-zero emissions in 2050. Viet Nam Energy Outlook Report 2021  examined possible pathways for the development of the energy sector, and it featured a trajectory to reach this target for the first time.

One major finding was that a sustainable energy system will enable self-sufficiency. Another is that wind and solar energy are cheaper long-term solutions than coal and gas. At present, coal is the leading source of power.

Energy Modelling Lab is developing the scenarios that will be used in a new energy-system model for the Energy Outlook Report 2023. The model makes it possible for decision-makers and energy and power planners to identify the most cost-effective and feasible pathways to achieve a sustainable green transition.

Building DK-BioRes

MODELLING

The first step is to meet with our Vietnamese partners and agree on the questions to address, relevant analyses to undertake, and scenarios to design.

Energy Modelling Lab then redesigns and updates the modelling framework. We strengthen the representation of new decarbonization technologies and integrate relevant constraints.

SCENARIO ANALYSIS

The core scenarios focus on the realization of the net-zero target. They allow for a comprehensive investigation of optimal solutions. The results are then reflected in recommendations for policymaking.

The process fosters a wide consensus and understanding of Viet Nam’s energy challenges and opportunities in the mid-to long term.

REPORT

The Viet Nam Energy Outlook Report 2023 identifies the cost-optimized solutions that support Viet Nam’s energy system to become sustainable.

The Report allows for decision-makers to explore the system-wide implications of fulfilling targets by 2050. It also shows how Viet Nam can contribute to fulfilling the Paris Agreement on climate change.


Duration: March- December 2023

EML Team: Kenneth Karlsson, Ida Græsted Jensen &Till ben Brahim

Client: Danish Energy Agency 

Total budget: DKK 572.288

Reference: Giada Venturini, Danish Energy Agency

Collaborators: Electricity and Renewable Energy Authority (EREA, Vietnam), Hanoi University of Science and Technology, and E4SMA

Model: TIMES-VNM

Enhancing energy planning in Viet Nam

Energy Modelling Lab is enhancing energy planning in Viet Nam

Viet Nam is a regional manufactural hub and one of the most dynamic countries in East Asia, with the GDP annual growth rate averaging 6.2 per cent from 2000 until 2023. According to the analysis in the Viet Nam Energy Outlook Report 2021, electricity consumption will more than double in 2050 compared to 2020.

Viet Nam has pledged to reach the target of net-zero emissions by 2050. This means that the power system must meet more than 70 per cent of the total final energy demand with renewable energy-based electricity.

Energy Modelling Lab supports the endeavours to enhance energy planning in Viet Nam. We assist the Vietnamese authorities by building up their planning capacities concerning scenario-based, long-term modelling of the Vietnamese energy system. To this end, we are integrating an updated technology catalogue in the present energy system model and have included electricity storage solutions, P2X, nuclear technologies, optimal use of biomass, and carbon capture and storage.

Building DK-BioRes

MODELLING

Energy Modelling Lab updates the technology catalogue that is integrated into the present energy system model.

The catalogue includes decarbonisation technologies that are not yet being used and describes costs and relevant technical parameters.

ANALYSIS

The catalogue contributes to fostering data-driven discussions and understanding of the potential of decarbonization technologies.

The expected outcome of this process is a broader consensus on the potential.

RESULTS

The results will be integrated into the existing energy system model and can create first insights into cost-optimal applications of these technologies.

The results will contribute to making the Viet Nam Energy Outlook Report 2023 more comprehensive and enable decision-making on investments.


Duration: November 2022 – August 2023

EML Team: Kenneth Karlsson, Ida Græsted Jensen &Till ben Brahim

Client: UNOPS

Budget: DKK 93.438

Reference: Maurizio Gargiulo, Director of E4SMA

Collaborators: Electricity and Renewable Energy Authority (EREA, Vietnam), Danish Energy Agency (DEA) and E4SMA

Model: TIMES-VNM