The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) aims to transform the way we produce and use energy in the EU, with the goal of achieving EU leadership in the development of technological solutions capable of delivering 2020 and 2050 energy and climate targets.
Energy system models allow us to understand the impact, and thus consider the 'design', of changes in the energy system. This is increasingly important for an energy system in transition that should absorb increasing levels of intermittency whilst meeting the objectives of security, sustainability and competitiveness and placing the consumer at the centre. The following is a non-exhaustive chronological overview of some selected actions taken to support the development and use of energy system models in EU energy planning, in addition to a more general look at recent actions in support of the SET-Plan.
Energy System Modelling
- Some background on the energy modelling activities carried out at the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service, is available at the European Commission Science Hub, together with the resulting publications dating back to 2005.
- In 2013, the Joint Research Centre published a report on the JRC-EU-TIMES model: Assessing the long-term role of the SET-Plan energy technologies. The main objective of this report was to present the main inputs and assumptions used in the JRC-EU-TIMES model, developed by two former JRC institutes: the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) and the Institute for Energy and Transport (IET). The model is designed to analyse the role of energy technologies in meeting Europe's energy and climate change-related policy objectives. It models the uptake and deployment of technology and its interaction with the energy infrastructure, including storage options, in an energy systems perspective.
- In August 2014 the Directorate-General for Energy launched a public tender aimed at developing a new tool, METIS, to model the European energy system, properly customised to the European Commission needs. METIS is expected to accurately simulate the main aspects of the European energy system and be calibrated with data from the current EU energy system (covering all 28 Member States). The European Commission will use this to explore and analyse the effects of different policies and trends at the regional, national and European levels by running several scenarios for different time horizons. The modelling effort will focus mainly on the electricity, gas and heat sectors, both for the short-term and the medium- to long-term. The contract was awarded in December 2014 to a consortium led by Artelys.
- The JRC organised an expert workshop on "Addressing flexibility in energy system models" in December 2014. The objective of the workshop was to gather experts from modelling teams dealing with these problems from different perspectives, ranging from energy system-wide to detailed sectoral energy models, in order to share and compare modelling approaches and results, and identify gaps and potential solutions.
- Following the workshop on "Addressing flexibility in energy system models", in 2015 the JRC published a report on Addressing flexibility in energy system models in which it summarised the presentations and findings from the 2014 workshop.
- Also in 2015, the JRC published the JRC-EU-TIMES report Bioenergy potentials for EU and neighbouring countries. This report was the first in a series of reports on low-carbon energy technologies potentials, and addressed the quantification of current and future biomass potential contribution to decarbonisation pathways of the energy system. The data sets produced are input into the JRC-EU-TIMES model to analyse the main drivers of future biomass use within the energy systems.
- In April 2015, the European Commission issued a call for tenders for a Study on the Macroeconomics of Energy and Climate Policies. This major project, awarded to a consortium led by Cambridge Econometrics and including E3Modelling and Trinomics as partners, is currently ongoing and will extend the capability of two global energy-economy-environment models to give a fuller impact assessment of the policies designed to promote energy efficiency and the transition to a low-carbon economy. The two models have been chosen to represent two very different traditions in economics: post-Keynesian macro-econometric modelling (the E3ME model) and Computable General Equilibrium modelling (GEM-E3).
- In December 2015 the Executive Committee of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) agreed to launch a Joint Programme on Energy Systems Integration (ESI). A sub-programme on modelling aims to develop integrated energy system models that capture the strong physical, economic and regulatory interactions that exist within energy systems and that fully utilise increasing volumes of data.
- In February 2016, the MEDEAS project held its kick-off meeting. Funded under Horizon 2020, this project aims to use open source software to design a new energy-economy model for the future EU transition to a low-carbon energy system.
- On June 30, 2016 the EU’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) organised a workshop on Energy System Modelling with the objective of bringing together the four H2020 projects funded under the topic "LCE 21 – 2015: Modelling and analysing the energy system, its transformation and impacts" to identify possible synergies and/or overlaps. Apart from MEDEAS project the other 3 awarded projects of the LCE21-call are REEEM, REFLEX and SET-Nav.
- In July 2016, the EC published its latest edition of the EU Reference Scenario 2016, which projects energy, transport and greenhouse gas emissions trends in the EU up to 2050. The Reference Scenario is a projection of where our current set of policies coupled with market trends are likely to lead. The EU has set ambitious objectives for 2020, 2030 and 2050 on climate change and energy, so the Reference Scenario allows policy-makers to analyse the long-term economic, energy, climate change and transport outlook based on the current policy framework.
- Also in July 2016 the JRC published a new issue of the GECO 2016: Global Energy and Climate Outlook. Road from Paris, which examines the effects on greenhouse gas emissions and energy markets of a reference scenario where current trends continue beyond 2020; of two scenarios where the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions have been included; and of a 2°C scenario in line with keeping global warming below the limits agreed in international negotiations. The report presents an updated version of the modelling work supported by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) in the UNFCCC negotiations that resulted in the Paris Agreement of the COP21 in December 2015.
- In August 2016, the JRC published a technical report laying out the modelling approach that is implemented in the POTEnCIA modelling tool (Policy Oriented Tool for Energy and Climate Change Impact Assessment). This model was developed by the JRC’s former Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) to assess the impacts of alternative energy and climate policies on the energy sector, under different hypotheses about surrounding conditions within the energy markets.
- In September 2016, the JRC and the United States Department of Energy organised an expert workshop on "Understanding the Water-Energy Nexus: Integrated Water and Power System Modelling", where approximately 70 European and US scientists from academia, government and industry involved in power system modelling gathered in order to compare and exchange state-of-the-art modelling methodologies and best practices, identifying gaps and potential solutions. The discussions took into account modelling and data-related methodological aspects, with their limitations and uncertainties, as well as possible alternatives to be implemented within power system models.
General SET-Plan related news and activities from JRC/SETIS
- The Joint Research Centre published a number of reports in 2016. In addition to the reports covered in the last SET-Plan update, the JRC has published a report titled Mapping regional energy interests for S3P-Energy, the main goal of which was to carry out a first identification of regions with common energy technology interests according to their smart specialisation strategies.
- On July 20 2016, the Commission presented a set of measures to accelerate the shift to low-carbon emissions in all sectors of the economy in Europe. The package will help Member States prepare for the future and keep Europe competitive. It is part of the EU's strategy for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate policy.
- The European Parliament adopted the EU Strategy for Heating and Cooling at a plenary session on 13 September 2016. The resolution recognises the huge untapped potential of using recoverable heat and district heating systems and the fact that “50% of the total EU heat demand can be supplied via district heating”.
- In his State of the Union Address in September 2016, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted that smarter energy use combined with ambitious climate action is creating new jobs and growth in Europe and is the best investment in Europe's future and in the modernisation of the European economy.
- In the context of the process towards a SET-Plan Integrated Roadmap and Action Plan, organisations (universities, research institutes, companies, public institutions and associations) involved in research and innovation activities in the energy field are invited to register in the European energy R&I landscape database, which aims at facilitating partnerships and collaboration across Europe. Registration is open to stakeholders from the EU and H2020 associated countries. Organisations are able to indicate their area of activity according to the energy system challenges and themes, as identified in the SET-Plan process towards an Integrated Roadmap and Action Plan. The database is publicly available on the SETIS website.
- During the last SET-Plan Steering Group meeting in September, four agreements on strategic targets and priorities were endorsed by the SET-Plan Steering Group and relevant stakeholders. The agreed Declarations of Intent concern the Key Actions 1 & 2, and 9 and 10 of the Integrated SET-Plan dedicated to Europe "Being n°1 in renewables" regarding ocean and deep geothermal energy, "Renewing efforts to demonstrate carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the EU and developing sustainable solutions for carbon capture and use (CCU)" and "Maintaining a high level of safety of nuclear reactors and associated fuel cycles during operation and decommissioning, while improving their efficiency". The most recent Steering Group meeting took place in Brussels October 19.
- The 9th SET-Plan Conference ‘Energy Union: towards a transformed European energy system with the new, integrated Research, Innovation and Competitiveness Strategy’ is to take place in Bratislava, Slovakia on 30 November - 2 December 2016.
- Two JRC-organised side-events are to be held in the margins of the SET-Plan Conference. The first is a workshop to present the recent findings and inputs of SETIS to the State of the Energy Union report and its added value for the overall progress of EU innovation in the energy sector. This workshop will also present the Technology Innovation Monitoring (TIM) tool developed by the JRC. The second workshop will deal with Funding innovative low-carbon energy demonstration projects in the context of the NER 300 programme.
 The DG JRC is organised in Directorates as of July 2016.