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New energy system modelling to offer ‘most comprehensive’ view of flexibility

Image: Energy Systems Catapult

Image: Energy Systems Catapult

The Energy Systems Catapult has launched a new modelling tool with a whole energy system view to explore the role of storage and flexibility in decarbonising at least-cost.

The Storage and Flexibility Model (SFM) is capable of representing future grid scenarios at a second-by-second level and works across multiple seasons, vectors, network levels and geographic regions.

It is being billed as the most comprehensive model due to it being the only model that accounts for uncertainties and multiple vectors at local and national network levels, across both short and long-term temporal resolution.

The SFM is made of both a long-term module and a short-term module linked together into a single model. The iteration process can be run in two modes: Deterministic, whereby the SFM runs a single time for each iteration or Monte Carlo, where it runs multiple simulations changing the demand, wind speed, solar resource, electricity plant outages and interconnector prices inputs each time.

It was commissioned by the Energy Technologies Institute and developed by Baringa.

In its initial findings, it estimated that to meet an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by the UK will need 1,400GWh of electric and thermal storage, a figure 55% higher than previous estimates made by the Energy Technologies Institute.

This rises even higher in a scenario where carbon capture and storage (CCS) is unavailable. In this scenario, electricity storage capacities double to 150GW and an additional 28GW of hot water storage capacity is required in the heat sector by 2050.

In this scenario, although the total capacity of electricity storage technologies increase, proportionally the greatest increase is for shorter duration batteries.

However, the base scenario tested suggested interconnectors and Micro CHP capacity in 2030 will replace the need for short-term electricity storage provided by batteries in the 2020s. It also found electric vehicles with managed charging will reduce the need for additional flexibility in the electricity sector.

Jonathan Wills, CEO at Energy Technologies Institute, said: This tool will provide valuable insights to industry when undertaking a whole systems approach to cost-effective decarbonisation for the UK.”

These initial findings do, however, require further investigation, the Energy Systems Catapult said. There are additional plans to run the model according to the net zero target.

The insights from the model are applicable to a range of use cases, including long-term capacity planning, assessing the value of specific storage technologies and identifying the system service requirements of future energy systems.

Alex Buckman networks and energy storage practice manager at Energy Systems Catapult, said as the UK decarbonises, the way energy is produced, transported, used and stored will change, resulting in an increasing challenge to balance supply and demand.

“Without a deeper understanding of how these technologies could help in balancing energy networks, we will at best end up with a system that costs more than it needs to and at worst one that fails to manage supply and demand.

“The Storage and Flexibility Model fills a crucial space in the current energy system modelling landscape, enabling us to see more clearly than ever how energy storage and flexibility could help the UK transition to net zero at least cost,” he said.

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