Support for the implementation of the SET-Plan

At the current state, fossil fuel-based technologies still play the major role in the provision of energy in all energy supply and demand sectors. To achieve the EU-targets, the existing system needs to be completely reshaped. That means primarily that fossil fuel-based technologies need to be replaced by low-carbon technologies, whereof a large share will probably be provided by Renewable Energy Sources (RES). However, most RES technologies such as photovoltaic plants or wind turbines are intermittent electricity sources. Moreover, the load might be more variable over time due to structural changes and energy efficiency technologies. Therefore, flexibility options are needed to continuously balance supply and demand and maintain the high level of security of supply in the European energy system.

The core objective of the REFLEX project is to analyse and evaluate the development towards a low-carbon energy system with focus on flexibility options including power-to-X options in the EU up to the year 2050 to support a better system integration of RES. New technologies and innovations are necessary to address the scrutinized challenges having the (future) competitiveness of technologies as well as their social impacts in mind. The project supports the scientific underpinning for the implementation of the SET-Plan by strengthening the knowledge base for decision-making concerning feasibility, effectiveness, costs and impacts of related measures and options. As a result, effective strategies for a transition to an efficient low-carbon energy system will be identified.

Sub goals and research questions to answer

The need for competitive low-carbon technologies and flexibility options in the European energy system to achieve its emission reduction targets is uncontroversial. The crucial research questions are:

1. How do current and future energy technologies and policies interfere?
2. What will be an optimal combination of flexibility options to cope with the future flexibility needs?
3. How do these technologies and policy measures affect the environment, economy and society?

To answer these questions, the following sub-goals are defined:

Analysing the impacts of technological development
and innovation on the energy system and its dynamics

One objective of this project is to identify and assess the most relevant low-carbon technologies and flexibility options in the mobility, heat and electricity sectors for a sustainable and cost-effective transformation of the European energy system and to analyse their intra and cross-sectoral competition in a qualitative and quantitative manner.

Comparative assessment of the impacts and the sustainability
performance of all relevant energy technologies

Learning and scaling effects strongly determine investments in new technologies. These aspects need therefore to be considered, when answering the research questions above. Within the REFLEX project, experience curves for selected technologies, e. g. smart meters, storage devices or RES technologies, will be deduced and implemented in the analysis. The integration of experience curves facilitates a more comprehensive analysis of the cost-effective flexibility portfolio and of the competition between different low-carbon technologies.

Assessing the related impacts on the environment, society and economy

The actual composition of the technology portfolio applied in the energy system strongly influences the impacts on environment and society. These impacts will be quantified as a result of the REFLEX project. In addition, health-related impacts and external costs imposed on European citizens will be considered. The aim is to deliver more holistic insights into the socio-environmental impacts of an entire technology portfolio.

Analysing of technology policy measures in the framework of the SET-Plan

A key activity of this project is to derive policy measures from the entire assessments to assist policy makers in identifying effective strategies for a transition to an efficient low-carbon energy system. Therefore different policy measures (e. g. RES policy or energy efficiency measures) and designs for the electricity market (e. g. Energy-Only-Market, strategic reserve and capacity market) are analysed. It will be investigated, whether completely new strategies or policy measures are necessary to promote relevant technologies as well as certain transition pathways to an efficient low-carbon energy system. If the model-based assessments show a need for additional policy measures, concrete options will be derived.

Understanding the complex links/interactions/interdependencies between the different actors, the available technologies and the impact of the different interventions on all levels from the individual to the whole energy system.

A highly detailed analysis of sector specific issues complements the assessment of cross-sectoral interdependencies. The analysis in the REFLEX project will provide insights into the transition of single technologies as well as into the interdependencies between different technologies and sectors. Furthermore, the assessment taking into account the perspective of generation companies regarding economic performance of energy technologies. The results of REFLEX show and help to understand the complex links, interactions and interdependencies between the different actors and technologies within the energy system as well as their impact on society and environment.

Providing model based decision support tools for the different actors
in the energy system in order to facilitate handling the complex system

In the REFLEX project, different existing modelling tools from the project partners will be used. By combining and coupling these models a more comprehensive Energy Modelling System (EMS) will be developed. The EMS assists policy and decision makers in identifying and analysing effective strategies for a transition to an efficient low-carbon energy system, with special attention to the future needs for system flexibility.

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