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Comparison of Power Sector Models by Analyzing the Impact of Modeling Features on Optimal Capacity Expansion

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Jonas van Ouwerkerk, Hans Christian Gils, Hedda Gardian, Martin Kittel, Wolf-Peter Schill, Alexander Zerrahn, Alexander Murmann, Jann Launer, Laura Torralba-Díaz, Christian Bußar

Ithaca: arXiv.org, 2021, 24 S.
(arXiv ; 2109.06530)


The transition towards decarbonized energy systems requires the expansion of renewable and flexibility technologies in power sectors. In a model comparison, we examine the optimal expansion of such technologies with six capacity expansion power system models. The technologies under investigation include base- and peak-load power plants, electricity storage, and transmission. We define four highly simplified and harmonized use cases that focus on the expansion of only one or two specific technologies to isolate their effects on model results. We find that deviating assumptions on limited availability factors of technologies cause technology-specific deviations between optimal capacity expansion in models in almost all use cases. Fixed energy-to-power-ratios of storage can entirely change model optimal expansion outcomes, especially shifting the ratio between short- and long-duration storage. Fixed initial and end storage levels can impact the seasonal use of long-duration storage. Models with a pre-ordered dispatch structure significantly deviate from linear optimization models, as limited foresight and flexibility can lead to higher capacity investments. A simplified net transfer capacity approach underestimates the need for grid infrastructure compared to a more detailed direct current load flow approach. We further find deviations in model results of optimal storage and transmission capacity expansion between regions and link them to variable renewable energy generation and demand characteristics. We expect that the general effects identified in our stylized setting also hold in more detailed model applications, although they may be less visible there.

Wolf-Peter Schill

Head of the research area „Transformation of the Energy Economy“ in the Energy, Transportation, Environment Department

Keywords: power sector modeling, model comparison, capacity expansion, optimization, scenario analysis
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