The influence of spatial and temporal intermittency of renewable energy on storage deployment in the alpine region

Daniel Sanchez, of the University of California, USA, investigated the optimal deployment of renewable energy in the Alps, while balancing the twin concerns of climate change and ecosystem protection.

Daniel Sanchez

Daniel Sanchez


The Alps have great potential for the use of renewable energy, which is an important aspect of climate change mitigation. Yet, the renewable energy potential of the region is limited by physical resource constraints, necessitating the use of decision-making tools to understand deployment. This project aims to quantify the spatial and temporal variation of renewable energy sources in the alpine region, as well as to determine the potential contribution of each energy source to different sectors, including electricity, heating, and transportation. This is accomplished using the BeWhere tool, a techno-economic engineering model for renewable energy systems optimization. BeWhere identifies the location, size, and technologies appropriate for a renewable energy system in a specific region, including the Alps.


Representation of spatial and temporal heterogeneity: Using global climate reanalysis and historical electricity system data, we derived solar resource, wind resource, and demand estimates at high spatial and temporal resolution. Technology enhancement in BeWhere: We included representation of P2G/P2L technologies in BeWhere, as well as enhanced representation of the electricity sector. We are able to study technology deployment using scenario analysis of different technology prices, CO2 prices, and resource constraints.


This project has made several contributions to understanding intermittency and methods for renewable energy integration. First, it has developed spatial and temporal profiles for wind power, solar power, and demand in the alpine region. Second, it has enhanced the representation of the electricity sector in the BeWhere tool, by requiring supply to exceed demand in all sampled timepoints throughout the planning period. Finally, it has included several novel techniques for compensating for intermittency, including power-to-gas (P2G) and power-to-liquid (P2L) technologies. P2G/P2L can convert excess electricity, or over-generation, into gaseous or liquid fuels for use in heating or transportation.


We anticipate applying this model to understand several important energy system configurations that can contribute to climate change mitigation. First, we hope to quantify the contribution of P2G and P2L technologies in compensating for intermittency and providing a source of low-carbon gaseous and liquid fuels to the alpine region. While several studies have identified a potential role for P2G/P2L in energy systems, none have studied deployment at high temporal or spatial resolution. Second, we hope to study carbon-neutral energy systems that do not rely on geologic carbon storage or high amounts of electrification of heating and transportation. These systems can use P2G, P2L, and carbon captured from biomass (a source of biogenic carbon) to satisfy energy demands.


Florian Kraxner, Ecosystem Services and Management Program, IIASA

Nils Johnson, Energy Program, IIASA


Daniel Sanchez, of the University of California, USA, is a citizen of the USA. He was funded by the IIASA US National Member Organization and worked in the Ecosystem Services and Management Program during the YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.

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Last edited: 03 February 2016


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