The European potential for renewable electricity is sufficient to enable fully renewable supply on different scales, from self-sufficient, subnational regions to an interconnected continent. We not only show that a continental-scale system is the cheapest, but also that systems on the national scale and below are possible at cost penalties of 20% or less. Transmission is key to low cost, but it is not necessary to vastly expand the transmission system. When electricity is transmitted only to balance fluctuations, the transmission grid size is comparable to today’s, albeit with expanded cross-border capacities. The largest differences across scales concern land use and thus social acceptance: in the continental system, generation capacity is concentrated on the European periphery, where the best resources are. Regional systems, in contrast, have more dispersed generation. The key trade-off is therefore not between geographic scale and cost, but between scale and the spatial distribution of required generation and transmission infrastructure.
- Publication Year
- Publication Type
- Academic Articles
Tröndle, T., Lilliestam, J., Marelli, S., & Pfenninger, S. (2020). Trade-Offs between Geographic Scale, Cost, and Infrastructure Requirements for Fully Renewable Electricity in Europe. Joule, 4(9), 1929-1948. doi:10.1016/j.joule.2020.07.018.
- Staff involved
- Projects involved
- The transition to a renewable electricity system and its interactions with other policy aims (TRIPOD)