The decarbonisation of the energy system is one of the main challenges that the European Union is facing in the coming years and decades. Achieving the targeted emission reductions of 80 to 95% compared to 1990 levels by 2050 requires a fundamental transformation of the energy sector. Therefore, the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan has been established to accelerate the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies.
Current EU energy legislation as well as the EU’s energy technology and innovation strategy, outlined in COM(2013)253, aim to create an environment that facilitates the evolution of existing as well as developing new low-carbon technologies that can cope with the specific needs for a stable, cost-efficient and sustainable prospective energy supply. They promote in particular the deployment of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) and energy efficiency in the electricity, heat and transport sector. These measures are framed by additional roadmaps that trigger investment in the development of complementary technologies of energy conversion (electricity and heat provision), transportation and consumption (mobility, buildings, industry and transport), such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), nuclear fission or grid infrastructure.
However, several technologies in the SET-Plan, which will play a crucial role in next decades, challenge the energy system by their intermittent nature. The integration of intermittent RES necessitates flexibility in the energy system. A large bundle of technologies may provide the needed flexibility such as energy storage systems, smart grids, adaptation of conventional power plant technologies, demand side management and new applications for power in different sectors. These applications are often cross-sectoral and can be complemented by power-to-X, such as power-to-heat (e. g. heat pumps, district heating), power-to-transport (e.g. electric mobility, fuel cells) and power-to-industry (e.g. H2 for methanol or ammoniac production).
Still, the interaction between different options, the optimal portfolio and the impact on environment and society are unknown. It is thus the core objective of REFLEX to analyse and evaluate the development towards a low-carbon energy system with focus on flexibility options in the EU to support the implementation of the SET-Plan. For this purpose, REFLEX brings together the comprehensive expertise and competences of known European experts from six different countries. Each partner focuses on one of the research fields techno-economic learning, fundamental energy system modelling or environmental and social life cycle assessment.