BM in ren pow systIllustration by courtesy of Elisabeth Wetterlund.System analysis researchers in Bio4Energy, together with colleagues at partner organisations in Europe, are starting a new project that will deliver assessment tools for the integration of electricity produced during biomass conversion operations into power production systems that currently rely on high shares of intermittent renewable sources of electricity such as wind and solar.

"We want to see if biomass can play the role of balancing out unevenness in electricity production based on a great share of renewables", according to project leader This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., who is an associate senior lecturer at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) in northern Sweden.

Last week, the Swedish Research Council Formas announced its intention to fund the project over two years and which will see considerable exchange of expertise between Bio4Energy at LTU, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. The latter two organisations are based in Austria.

Several European countries are looking to introduce high shares of electricity made from renewable sources in their energy systems, but face the potential problem of either having to store solar and wind power at a high cost or not having enough in store during extended periods of cloudy weather and low winds or, for that matter, in times of even more extreme weather events.

"The long-term aim is to make renewable electricity systems less intermittent. We envisage the possibility of turning excess electricity that still occurs into electro fuels. This can be an option in cases where transmission capacity is low, such as it is from northern to southern Sweden", Wetterlund said.

According to the collaboration partners, there is no modelling tool available for creating the kind of systemic overview that is required for answering the scientists' questions. To remedy the situation, they have set out to integrate two existing models: One developed by Bio4Energy researchers for the assessment of optimal geographical locations for biorefinery production, called BeWhere; and another that is less geographically explicit but which takes into account the aspect of timing in renewable electricity production from solar and wind power, known as COPA.

"In this project we focus on the method, on the modelling of the system, and not on technology development. Our study will consider existing as well as emerging technologies and we will be keeping an eye on related technology developments", Wetterlund said;

"The study will be directed at researchers and political decision-makers. It will show how different parts of the energy system can be linked up… and [discuss the feasbility of] large-scale integration of renewable energy in the energy system" and which includes bio-based power.

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