Gas/liquid fuels as storage for intermittent renewable electricity: Systems performance and localization in the alpine region

Sennai Mesfun, of the LuleƄ University of Technology, Sweden, used the IIASA BeWhere model to investigate whether the feasibility of renewable energy can be enhanced by using gas/liquid fuels as power storage.

Sennai Mesfun

Sennai Mesfun


Decarbonization of the energy sector by increasing the share of renewable resources, such as biomass, wind, and solar technologies, is an essential step towards the deployment of low-carbon and sustainable energy systems. According to the International Energy Agency [1], the share of share of renewables in the global electricity mix is projected to increase over the coming years (from 20% today to 65% by 2050, of which about two thirds is intermittent in nature). Due to the spatial and temporal mismatch between the availability of intermittent resources and electricity demand, significant power over-generation potential is to be expected from economy-wide or global deployment of solar and wind power systems. In order to balance the mismatch (both in time and location) between power generation and demand, reliable storage systems are crucial. In this regard, the power-to-gas/liquid (P2G/L) technology can offer benefits that would make it an interesting alternative to conventional storage technologies (such as batteries). In this process, the power over-generated from the power dispatch system can be stored in gas/liquid fuels via electrochemical reduction of steam and CO2. The reduced gas, similar to syngas, can then be used for the synthesis of higher-grade transportation/gas fuels. Here, we study the potential of P2G/L systems as storage for intermittent renewable electricity in the alpine region.


We use the BeWhere model, a geographically explicit techno-economic optimization model, to estimate the potential for electricity over-generation in the Alpine region by considering energy production potential from biomass, hydro, solar, and wind resources within the region. The model minimizes the cost of the entire supply chain (including the capital, O+M, transmission and emission cost) of the different technologies selected to meet the energy demand of the region.


We have made several advances in the BeWhere model, and in understanding P2G/L deployment. First, we enhance the temporal resolution of the existing Alps-BeWhere model in order to quantify potential excess power generation over the course of one year. We then evaluate the power over-generation potential and subsequently the production of liquid and/or gas fuels. We are currently evaluating different scenarios in order to assess the impact of the most influential parameters, such as carbon emission and fossil fuel prices. The liquid and gas fuel (produced in the P2G/L plants) is used to satisfy or partially displace fossil fuel demand in the transportation and heating sectors within the alpine region, respectively.


Preliminary results indicate that the P2G/L can provide a competitive power storage alternative as compared to conventional storage devices (such as battery storages). More importantly, it adds flexibility to the energy sector by creating a link between power and liquid or gaseous fuels.


[1] International Energy Agency (2013). Secure and Efficient Electricity Supply.


Sylvain Leduc and Florian Kraxner, Ecosystem Services and Management Program, IIASA


Sennai Mesfun, of the LuleƄ University of Technology, Sweden, is a citizen of Eritrea. He was self-funded 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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