Publications of Lilliestam, Johan

Comparing carbon capture and storage (CCS) with concentrating solar power (CSP): potentials, costs, risks, and barriers

Coal power coupled with Carbon [Dioxide] Capture and Storage (CCS), and Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technologies are often included in the portfolio of climate change mitigation options intended to decarbonize electricity systems. Both of these technologies can provide baseload electricity, are in early stages of maturity, and have benefits, costs, and obstacles. We compare and contrast CCS applied to coal-fired power plants with CSP. At present, both technologies are more expensive than existing electricity-generating options, but costs should decrease with large-scale deployment, especially in the case of CSP. For CCS, technological challenges still remain, storage risks must be clarified, and regulatory and legal uncertainties remain. For CSP, current challenges include electricity transmission and business models for a rapid and extensive expansion of high-voltage transmission lines. The need for international cooperation may impede CSP expansion in Europe.

Fostering interdependence to reduce political risks in a European-North African renewable electricity Supergrid

The option of decarbonisation of the European power sector with the help of significant imports of renewable electricity from North Africa via a trans-continental electricity Supergrid is increasingly gaining attention. In this paper, we investigate the geopolitical risks to European energy security in such a future, and discuss cornerstones for possible policy strategies to reduce these risks. The strategies are rooted in the interdependence between exporter and importer. We come to the conclusion that fostering and deepening, as opposed to reducing, the dependence of both sides on each other may be a valuable and powerful way to reduce the geopolitical risks of renewable electricity trade between Europe and North Africa.

Regional integration to support full renewable power deployment for Europe by 2050

The European Union is currently working on a achieving a target of 20% renewable energy by 2020, and has a policy framework in place that relies primarily on individual Member States implementing their own policy instruments for renewable energy support, within a larger context of a tradable quota system. For 2050 the target is likely to be more stringent, given the goal of reducing European carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by then. Preliminary analysis has suggested that achieving the 2020 target through renewable power deployment will be far less expensive and far more reliable if a regional approach is taken, in order to balance intermittent supply, and to take advantage of high renewable potentials off the European mainland. Analysis based on modeling is combined with the results of stakeholder interviews to highlight the key options and governance challenges associated with developing such a regional approach.

Battaglini A, Lilliestam J. Das SuperSmart Grid - die Möglichkeit für 100 Prozent Erneuerbare Energie. In: Alvarado J, editor. Energie gleich Arbeit. Nachdenken über unseren Umgang mit Energie. Berin: Stiftung Brandenburger Tor; 2010. p. 38-42.
Patt A, Pfenninger S, Lilliestam J. Vulnerability of solar energy infrastructure and output to extreme events: climate change implications. In: Vulnerability of energy systems to climate change and extreme events. Trieste: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); 2010.

Making concentrated solar power competitive with coal: The costs of a European feed-in tariff

The European Union has yet to determine how exactly to reach its greenhouse gas emissions targets for the future. One potential answer involves large-scale development of concentrated solar power (CSP) in the North African region, transmitting the power to Europe. CSP is a relatively young and little utilized technology and is expensive when compared to other methods of generation. Feasibility studies have shown it is possible to generate enough power from CSP plants in Africa to spearhead the EUs climate goals. However, the costs of such a project are less well known. Currently, CSP must compete with low cost coal-fired electricity plants, severely hindering development. We examine the possible investment costs required for North African CSP levelized electricity cost to equal those of coal-fired plants and the potential subsidy costs needed to encourage growth until the technologies reach price parity. We also examine the sensitivity of investment and subsidies to changes in key factors. We find that estimates of subsidy amounts are reasonable for the EU and that sensitivity to such factors as perceived risk and learning rates would enable policy-makers to positively influence the cost of subsidies and time required for CSP to be competitive with coal.

Modeling thermoelectric power generation in view of climate change

In this study we investigate how thermal power plants with once-through cooling could be affected by future climate change impacts on river water temperatures and stream flow. We introduce a model of a steam turbine power plant with once-through cooling at a river site and simulate how its production could be constrained in scenarios ranging from a one degree to a five degree increase of river temperature and a 10–50% decrease of stream flow. We apply the model to simulate a large nuclear power plant in Central Europe. We calculate annual average load reductions, which can be up to 11.8%, assuming unchanged stream flow, which leads to average annual income losses of up to 80 million €. Considering simultaneous changes in stream flow will exacerbate the problem and may increase average annual costs to 111 million € in a worst-case scenario. The model demonstrates that power generation could be severely constrained by typical climate impacts, such as increasing river temperatures and decreasing stream flow.

Development of SuperSmart Grids for a more efficient utilisation of electricity from renewable sources

If Europe is serious about reaching its target to keep global mean temperature increase below 2 °C, it must strive for a 100% renewable electricity system by 2050. The SuperSmart Grid approach combines what is often perceived as two exclusive alternatives: wide area power generation and decentralised power generation. We argue that by combining these, in fact, complementary measures, it is possible to address the crucial issue of renewable generation—fluctuating supply—in a comprehensive as well as in a technologically and economically viable manner. Thus, the SuperSmart Grid simultaneously can contribute to energy security, climate security, social security, and national security.