Juan Gea-Bermúdez, Ida Græsted Jensen, Marie Münster, Matti Koivisto, Jon Gustav Kirkerud, Yi-kuang Chen, Hans Ravn: The role of sector coupling in the green transition: A least-cost energy system development in Northern-central Europe towards 2050Applied Energy, Volume 289, 1 May 2021, 116685; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14010088


This paper analyses the role of sector coupling towards 2050 in the energy system of Northern-central Europe when pursuing the green transition. Impacts of restricted onshore wind potential and transmission expansion are considered. Optimisation of the capacity development and operation of the energy system towards 2050 is performed with the energy system model Balmorel. Generation, storage, transmission expansion, district heating, carbon capture and storage, and synthetic gas units compete with each other. The results show how sector coupling leads to a change of paradigm: The electricity system moves from a system where generation adapts to inflexible demand, to a system where flexible demand adapts to variable generation. Sector coupling increases electricity demand, variable renewable energy, heat storage capacity, and electricity and district heating transmission expansion towards 2050. Non-restricted investments in onshore wind and electricity transmission reduce emissions and costs considerably (especially with high sector coupling) with savings of 78.7€2016/person/year. Investments in electric power-to-heat units are key to reduce costs and emissions in the heat sector. The scenarios with the highest sector coupling achieve the highest emission reduction by 2045: 76% greenhouse gases reduction with respect to 1990 levels, which highlights the value of sector coupling to achieve the green transition.