Regionalized Potential Assessment of Variable Renewable Energy Sources in Europe (at EEM 2019)

A number of 196 nations agreed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 on restricting the global temperature rise to 2° Celsius. Germany, in particular, strives towards a 65 % share of (variable) renewable energy sources (vRES) by the end of 2030. To reach this aim, the redesign of the transformation paths of the energy systems towards a renewable energy network lies in the knowledge of vRES potentials.

The article’s content ist based on the paper Regionalized Potential Assessment of Variable Renewable Energy Sources in Europe , which focuses on Germany, Austria and their current and future „electrical neighbors”, presented at the 16th International Conference on the European Energy Market.

The determination of energy generation requires parameters like solar radiation and wind speed, which can be attained from weather models with a spatial and temporal resolution.

The production profiles for photovoltaic systems are based on a model, which processes weather data and takes technical factors into account. Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) delivers the radiation data, which contain information about direct and diffuse elements of global radiation. Moreover, other weather parameters are taken from the COSMO-EU model. These parameters enable the calculation of the power output per kW or time series of normalized generation for various inclinations and orientations of the solar panels.

The COSMO-EU weather model of the DWD is the basis for the time series of normalized generation for wind turbines. The wind profiles are determined by power curves of different manufacturers and turbine types. For wind onshore profiles, five wind turbines underwent a selection, in order to identify the common type for a specific NUTS-3-region. The offshore wind profile is based on the time series of normalized generation from the Vestas V164-8-0 wind turbine, a powerful new model.

All used spatial analyses follow a bottom-up approach, wherein land areas, protected areas and topography data are intersecting one another, to calculate the potential areas. The technical potential is obtained by adding power densities and time series of normalized generation. Besides the technology and regulation limitations, social factors or public acceptance influence the technical potential as well. Considering the social aspects in the technical potential calculations, the rated potential capacity and energy can be computed. 

In conclusion, the vRES capacity and energy potential for 16 European countries were analyzed and calculated with the bottom-up models using spatial analyses. However, to gain viable figures, economic factors must be considered, which will be examined in further studies. The findings from the detailed analysis can profit decision-making regarding transmission grid planning, on national as well as local level. This insight of vRES capacities and potentials can help not just Germany, but also Europe to reach their climate goals.

The stacked bar chart below (Figure 1) displays the potentials for renewable energy per country in Europe. Clearly visible, the highest potentials lie in United Kingdom, Norway and France, especially onshore along with wind offshore floating capacities. Belgium, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland have in contrast the lowest potentials out of the presented countries, considering all mentioned renewable energy potentials. Comparing the other countries, all of them have a great potential in installing more onshore turbines for a cleaner energy production.

Figure 1: Renewable energy potentials in European countries considered in the projetct eXtremOS

Downloads now available for time series of production average on wind onshore (NUTS-3-level), offshore (sea areas/exclusive economic areas) and solar (NUTS-3-level).

Related datasets

Time series of photovoltaic solar (Europe NUTS-3)
Time series of wind onshore (Europe NUTS-3)
Time series of wind offshore (Europe NUTS-3)

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