The transition to a low-carbon energy system will involve a major redesign of the energy system with a focus on renewable energy sources. Existing energy system planning models are incapable of guiding this transition effectively, because they do not capture enough of the technological, geographic, societal and political details that are important when designing an energy system around new renewable sources of energy.
For example, existing models cannot deal well with acceptance issues (e.g. public acceptance for renewable generators or power lines, or political acceptance for support schemes), although they are increasingly slowing down deployment and redirecting policy across Europe. That's why it is important for Europe to develop a new framework for modelling energy systems, one that reflects the need to fundamentally redesign those systems around non-fossil energy sources. Simply expanding existing energy models to capture these details would make them even more complex and intransparent than they already are.
The Sustainable Energy Transitions Laboratory (SENTINEL) will develop, test and make freely available a modelling framework that helps a wide range of stakeholders make the critical decisions they are now faced with. The SENTINEL framework is fundamentally different from those currently in use: it places user needs - identified through extensive stakeholder collaboration - at the centre of model development. In crucial ways, it is built specifically with renewable energy systems in mind - considering their particular temporal, geographic, and contextual issues - rather than merely adapted to include a rising share of renewables in fossil-based systems. And unlike many of the monolithic models that are currently being used, SENTINEL will be a platform on which a suite of highly specialised models can be linked together according to user needs. All of the models and data will be accessible via an online platform.
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837089.