Considering the targets of the Paris agreement, rapid decarbonisation of the power system is needed. In order to study cost-optimal and reliable zero and negative carbon power systems, a power system model of Western Europe for 2050 is developed. Realistic future technology costs, demand levels and generator flexibility constraints are considered. The optimised portfolios are tested for both favourable and unfavourable future weather conditions using results from a global climate model, accounting for the potential impacts of climate change on Europe's weather. The cost optimal mix for zero or negative carbon power systems consists of firm low-carbon capacity, intermittent renewable energy sources and flexibility capacity. In most scenarios, the amount of low-carbon firm capacity is around 75% of peak load, providing roughly 65% of the electricity demand. Furthermore, it is found that with a high penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources, a high dependence on cross border transmission, batteries and a shift to new types of ancillary services is required to maintain a reliable power system. Despite relatively small changes in the total generation from intermittent renewable energy sources between favourable and unfavourable weather years of 6%, emissions differ up to 70 MtCO2 yr−1 and variable systems costs up to 25%. In a highly interconnected power system with significant flexible capacity in the portfolio and minimal curtailment of intermittent renewables, the potential role of green hydrogen as a means of electricity storage appears to be limited.
- Carbon neutral power systems
- Intermittent renewable energy sources
- Negative emissions
- Power system modelling