Guest lecture: Managing the variability of solar and wind power in Europe and beyond

Dr. Stefan Pfenninger, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zürich, Switzerland.

20.02.2018 | Martin Greiner

Dato man 26 feb
Tid 15:00 17:00
Sted Navitas, Inge Lehmanns Gade 10, room 03.103


If average global warming is to be contained below 2°C, greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector must be eliminated by mid-century. The rapid cost decrease of wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) opens a pathway to achieve this. However, their substantial variability in space and time remains a serious problem, and continues to throw uncertainty on the feasibility of plans to move to 100% renewables in Europe and elsewhere. In this talk I will describe examples from my past and ongoing research examining variability at different scales, exploring technical and policy options to construct a stable renewable energy system based on an understanding of this variability. This work involves innovations in the simulation of solar and wind generation, in energy system analysis methods, and their application, which are possible through collaboration with other fields like meteorology and policy research. An energy system powered by variable wind and solar generation appears possible; but realising it requires a paradigm shift away from full control over electricity generation to a system designed around managing the natural variability of wind and solar power.

Brief CV:

I am an interdisciplinary researcher in renewable energy and environmental science, based in the Climate Policy Group at ETH Zürich’s Department of Environmental Systems Science. My current research focus is the global transition to a 100% clean and renewable energy system, and the technical, economic and policy barriers on the way to that goal. In the course of my work I created and lead development of the open-source energy system modelling tool Calliope. I am also the creator and lead developer of the platform to simulate wind and solar power plants worldwide.