Econonomics of Energy and Environmental Policy

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Modelling Net Zero and Sector Coupling: Lessons for European Policy Makers

This paper seeks to discuss some of the policy implications which arise from the modelling of Net Zero GHG emissions in 2050 within a sector coupling approach. We draw on a major study of the EU-UK energy system in 2050 produced by the Centre for Regulation in Europe (Chyong et al. 2021), which involved stakeholders from both electricity and gas sectors in a year-long modelling exercise of the European energy system. While no model of the future is an accurate forecast, an optimisation model of the Net Zero energy system is very helpful in clarifying the role the modelled technologies might play in a future energy system under binding government policy targets. What our modelling highlights is that the achievement of Net Zero depends on the massive scale up of variable renewable electricity, biomethane, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Failure to simultaneously scale up these technologies quickly will threaten the ability to achieve the Net Zero target by 2050.
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Keywords: Net Zero, sector coupling, electricity, gas, modelling, Europe

DOI: 10.5547/2160-5890.10.2.mpol

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Published in Volume 10, Number 2 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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