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The Value of Fast Transitioning to a Fully Sustainable Energy System: The Case of Turkmenistan

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The Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to mitigate effects of greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming. Turkmenistan ratified the Agreement and is a country with absolute reliance on fossil fuels and practically zero installed renewable energy capacity. This study provides potential transition scenarios to full sustainability for Turkmenistan in power, heat and transport sectors. Vast sunny desert plains of Turkmenistan could enable the country to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050, with prospects to have 76% solar photovoltaics and 8.5% wind power capacities in a Best Policy Scenario. Seven different transition scenarios, with different GHG emissions cost assumptions and transition rates, have been analysed to demonstrate different possible paths towards full sustainability in a cost-efficient way. The results of the study demonstrate that a 100% renewable energy system, regardless of the transition rate, will be lower in cost than a continual reliance on fossil fuels. The scenario with the highest rate of renewable energy integration enables the least cost system and quickest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The results are expected to serve as a guideline to policymakers in Turkmenistan. The structural results for transition speed options and respective costs and benefits from switching a practically fully fossil fuels based system to a fully renewable energy system are expected to be transferable to many countries.
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The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy
system: The case of Turkmenistan
Rasul Satymov, Dmitrii Bogdanov and Christian Breyer
LUT University, Yliopistonkatu 34, Lappeenranta, Finland
corresponding author: rasul.satymov@lut.fi
ABSTRACT:
The Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change aims to mitigate effects of greenhouse
gas emissions to limit global warming. Turkmenistan ratified the Agreement and is a country with absolute reliance on fossil fuels
and practically zero installed renewable energy capacity. This study provides potential transition scenarios to full sustainability for
Turkmenistan in power, heat and transport sectors. Vast sunny desert plains of Turkmenistan could enable the country to switch to
100% renewable energy by 2050, with prospects to have 76% solar photovoltaics and 8.5% wind power capacities in a Best Policy
Scenario. Seven different transition scenarios, with different GHG emissions cost assumptions and transition rates, have been
analysed to demonstrate different possible paths towards full sustainability in a cost-efficient way. The results of the study
demonstrate that a 100% renewable energy system, regardless of the transition rate, will be lower in cost than a continual reliance
on fossil fuels. The scenario with the highest rate of renewable energy integration enables the least cost system and quickest
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The results are expected to serve as a guideline to policymakers in Turkmenistan. The
structural results for transition speed options and respective costs and benefits from switching a practically fully fossil fuels based
system to a fully renewable energy system are expected to be transferable to many countries.
Keywords: 100% renewable energy, energy transition, policy scenario, sector coupling, sustainable development, Turkmenistan
I. INTRODUCTION
The anthropogenic global warming poses an existential threat
to humankind. Rising sea levels, extreme droughts, increase
in occurrences of extreme weather events, among other
things, can adversely alter life on Earth [1]. Humanity has a
great responsibility to address the issue of climate change in
an urgent manner and the highest priority is to reduce and
eliminate anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases
(GHG). As the energy sector is the biggest contributor of
carbon dioxide, a transition to renewable energy sources can
sharply reduce GHG emissions, and enable to reach
ambitious climate targets, preferably the 1.5C limit to global
warming above pre-industrial levels [2]. However, this
challenge requires the cooperation of all nations with no
exceptions, and Turkmenistan cannot continue heavily
relying on fossil fuels.
Turkmenistan is a Central Asian country with a population of
5.5 million people and an area of 488,100 km2 mostly
covered by arid deserts. The electricity consumed in
Turkmenistan in 2019 was 25.7 TWh, which equals 4,392
kWh/person per year, a relatively high consumption
compared to its Central Asian neighbouring countries [3],
thanks to high electricity penetration over 99%. People of
Turkmenistan have had access to free utilities since the end
of Soviet Union until very recently, when electricity price
was set in place at 0.0065 /kWh in 2014. Turkmenistan is
self-sufficient energy-wise and one of the few countries with
absolute dependence on fossil fuels, with the sixth largest
proven natural gas reserve in the world [4]. Natural gas fired
power plants provide 99% of the electricity in the country,
while the remaining 1% is covered by a small hydropower
plant of 1.2 MW in the Mary region and some individual
diesel power generators. Electricity generation, transmission
and distribution are controlled by Turkmenenergo State
Corporation, as a single vertically integrated entity [5]. The
state-owned oil company TurkmenNebit supplies heavily
subsidised fuel for the transportation needs of Turkmenistan.
Heating demands are covered by individual gas boilers in
95% of households and the remaining 5% is covered by
electricity. There is insufficient political and social will to
change the state of the current energy system in
Turkmenistan. Heavily subsidised utilities and lack of
awareness have kept the citizens ignorant regarding the
environmental effects of the reliance on fossil fuels. There are
little to no incentives for citizens to consider energy
efficiency and the conscientious use of resources. The
historically high level of corruption [6] and inefficient legal
and regulatory frameworks have barely attracted foreign
investments in renewable energy (RE).
The current energy system is presented in Fig. 1, tracing the
energy flow from primary fuels to final energy demands. The
figure shows the relatively straightforward energy flow with
almost non-existent sector coupling. The losses mostly
consist of inefficiencies from generating electricity in gas
turbines but do not include the losses from oil use in the
transport sector. The losses in the transport sector vary
greatly depending on transport mode [7] and are harder to
quantify for presentation purposes.
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
FIGURE 1. Energy flows in the energy system of Turkmenistan for the year 2020. All units are in TWh.
Despite having vast potential for solar and wind power, 655
GW and 10 GW respectively [8], there is practically zero
installed RE capacity in Turkmenistan [4], [9]. The vast
desert plains, with close to 300 days of sunshine at a global
horizontal irradiation of 4.72 kWh/(m2·day), or 1722
kWh/(m2·a) [10] and a wind power generation potential of up
to 222 W/m2 at 50 m hub height [11], can potentially enable
enormous RE-based electricity generation to cover domestic
demand and may even enable electricity export to
neighbouring countries.
The intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) of
Turkmenistan within the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) [12] highlighted
sustainable development and energy efficiency investments,
however little tangible actions have been undertaken in the
country so far. Practically zero new RE capacity was installed
in Turkmenistan since the hydropower plant installation in
Mary in 1913 [9], besides the experimental few kW solar PV
installed by the Institute of Solar Energy “Gun”. However,
there may be a few MW of independent PV systems, as
Werner et al. [13] have indicated, with a different method
based on international tariffs data, about 5 MW at the end of
2017. The national strategy represents the government’s
vision on the issue of climate change in vague terms, but no
effective legal frameworks have been established so far.
No updates or reports have been published by the government
of Turkmenistan since the INDC report, to the knowledge of
the authors. However, some international organisations and
corporations have assessed Turkmenistan’s current state and
current policy scenarios through work such as the energy
sector assessment [5], a holistic review of energy efficiency
and RE sectors in Central Asia [14], and a survey of the
current state of infrastructure developments [15]. The
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [5]
provides an analysis of the legal and regulatory frameworks
in Turkmenistan and concludes that the current institutional
structure favours fossil fuels. Korpeyev [16] provides an
overview on the benefits of switching to RE in Turkmenistan,
such as increasing standards of living, creating local jobs,
addressing the short-term issues of providing energy to
remote settlements and helping the country to realise its
environmental protection liabilities. All aforementioned
reports further confirm the inadequacy of the development
towards sustainability in the country. The aim of this research
is to analyse energy system pathways for Turkmenistan for
power, heat and transport sectors to design a cost-optimal
fully sustainable energy system aimed for the mid-century.
II. MATERIALS AND METHODS
A. MODEL
LUT Energy System Transition Model [17], [18] was utilised
to simulate Turkmenistan’s energy transition fully integrating
power, heat and transport sectors.
The model takes as input the current state of the energy
system and RE resource availability potentials. The current
power, heat and transport energy demands are first applied to
the model. Then, renewable energy potentials, including
solar, wind, bioenergy, geothermal and hydropower, are
considered. Energy infrastructure, including currently
installed power capacities, grid connections and power flow
between the regions of Turkmenistan, is taken into account.
In addition, population density and distribution and
electricity market prices are included. The model allows to
set different assumptions regarding costs of various
electricity production and storage technologies and the pace
of the transition such as the rate of integration of RE
technologies. It is also possible to set different constraints
such as CO2 emissions cost, area availability, biomass
potential, etc. The model utilises linear optimisation with a
spatial resolution of solar and wind resources of 0.45ºx0.45º.
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
The target function is to achieve a least cost energy system
given the constraints.
The fundamental structure of the LUT Energy System
Transition Model is displayed in Fig. 2. The model simulates
not only the power sector, but also heat and transport sectors
and the interplay between the sectors. It also considers
prosumers’ interplay with the system, i.e., the consumers of
electricity that produce their own electricity on-site.
FIGURE 2. Fundamental structure of the LUT Energy System Transition
Model [17].
The model considers 108 different generation and storage
technologies and their corresponding costs of installation,
fixed and variable operational costs, operational lifetime,
costs for fossil fuels and biofuels and renewable energy
potentials for solar, wind and hydro resources. The main
energy system components are displayed in Fig. 3.
FIGURE 3. Schematic of the LUT Energy System Transition Model for
power, heat and transport sectors [19].
The three energy sectors are divided into different types of
demand. The power sector consists of residential,
commercial and industrial end-users. Prosumers are divided
in a similar way, where residential houses, commercial
facilities and industrial sites can install rooftop solar PV
systems and batteries on-site. The heat sector consists of
space heating, domestic hot water, industrial process heat
demand and biomass for cooking. However, the heat needed
for these subsectors is not equal. Whereas space heating may
require ~25 °C of heat and domestic hot water demand may
range and top at 70 °C, industrial processes can usually
require an order of magnitude higher temperatures in
hundreds or more than thousand degrees Celsius. Therefore,
heat is further divided into low-, mid- and high temperature
heat. The transport sector is also subdivided into passenger
and freight transportation. The two transportation demands
are met by different modes of transport and respective final
energy requirements, according to Khalili et al. [7]:
Passengers road transport (Light Duty Vehicles, busses, 2-3
wheelers) and freight road transport (Medium Duty Vehicles,
Heavy Duty Vehicles):
BEV battery electric vehicle;
FCEV fuel cell electric vehicle;
PHEV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle;
ICE internal combustion engine.
Passengers and freight rail transport:
electricity;
liquid fuel.
Passengers and freight aviation:
electricity;
hydrogen;
liquid fuel.
The model outputs possible scenarios which are optimised
towards full sustainability on an hourly basis in five-year
intervals from the year 2020 to 2050. This includes the shares
of individual renewable energy resources and costs of
implementing such a transition and related greenhouse gas
emissions, assuming projected population growth, energy
demand growth, energy storage demand, diversified energy
mix and minimisation of reliance on fossil fuels. The model
had been described in great detail in [17], [18], [20].
B. DATA
In the absence of up-to-date and reliable data from state
institutions of Turkmenistan, various secondary international
sources, databases, fact books and organisations, such as
United Nations [8], [21], the Central Intelligence Agency of
the United States [22], International Energy Agency [23] and
several others [3], [24], [25] have served as data sources for
this research.
This study was conducted primarily relying on data from
secondary sources. Demographic data was taken from
international organisations, as the census report from the state
of Turkmenistan was not possible to obtain. The
demographics data used in this study may be out of date and
distorted [21], as it fails to account for the latest trends in the
country such as a mass emigration of people abroad in search
for jobs, or migration between the administrative regions
inside the country in the face of economic difficulties.
Nevertheless, the study was conducted based on accessible
demographic data.
The data regarding current installed power capacity and
power plants were taken from governmental internet portals
and websites of contractors of said power plants [26][29].
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
C. ASSUMPTIONS
The future power load projection was calculated based on
methods from Toktarova et al. [30]. The heating demand was
found based on population and average space heating demand
per person and average hot water demand per person [31].
Biomass for cooking demand is set to zero, as there is no
reason for households to use biomass due to subsidised
supply of fossil gas almost everywhere with a well-developed
gas infrastructure. Final heat demand projections are
presented in Fig. 4 divided by temperature levels and heat
segments. Absolute energy demand for the heat sector is
expected to grow due to the growing population and
increasing industrial heat demand from 55 TWh in the year
2020 to 90 TWh in 2050. The relative share of subsectors of
heat demand are not expected to change with industrial heat
demand having the largest share at around 60% of total
demand, followed by space heating demand representing
37%, and domestic water heating demand having the smallest
share of all at only 3% of total demand.
FIGURE 4. Heat demand projections by temperature levels (top) and by
segment (bottom) through the transition.
Final transport passenger and freight demand are expected to
grow along with the population, from 13 billion p-km and 42
billion t-km to over 22 billion p-km and 63 billion t-km by
mid-century (Fig. 5). Road and rail modes make up the
majority of the total demand and represent about 40% and
56% of total passenger transport demand and about 85% and
5% of total freight transport demand, respectively. Share of
aviation among the different transport modes is very small at
the beginning of the energy transition period, but is expected
to grow in the future, both in passenger and freight
transportation. Demand for marine transport is not considered
in this study for Turkmenistan, as no reliable source of marine
transport demand was found. The future growth trajectories
of various transport segments were obtained from Khalili et
al. [7].
FIGURE 5. Final transport passenger (top) and freight (bottom) demand
projections through the transition.
D. RENEWABLE RESOURCE POTENTIALS
The renewable resource potentials were calculated based on
available area, average annual solar irradiation and real-
world historical weather data. The country was subdivided
into five demand centres according to administrative regions:
Ahal, Balkan, Dashoguz, Lebap, Mary (Fig. 6).
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
FIGURE 6. Turkmenistan and administrative regions.
The solar PV resource potential was calculated based on the
area of each region, assuming an alternating current capacity
density of 75 MW/km2 and 18% PV module efficiency in
2020 and linearly increasing up to 30% efficiency and a
respective capacity density of 125 MW/km2 in 2050,
according to the projection in Vartiainen et al. [32].
Similarly, the wind turbine installation density was assumed
to be 8.4 MW/km2, which was determined by Bogdanov and
Breyer [20] based on a 3 MW E-101 wind turbine. Wind
turbine power ratings have been steadily increasing year-by-
year and are expected to continue increasing upwards [33].
There is a strong positive correlation between nameplate
power ratings and blade diameters, as manufacturers have
been achieving greater power ratings thanks to bigger swept
area of the rotor. However, an optimal wind turbine
installation requires a distance between each turbine of about
5 to 7 times the rotor diameter, thus bigger rotor diameters
require bigger distances between each turbine, thereby
counteracting the power ratings gain when it comes to area
density. Therefore, the aforementioned 8.4 MW/km2 is
assumed throughout the transition until 2050. The fixed tilted
solar PV and onshore wind resource potential maps are
displayed in Fig. 7.
FIGURE 7. Fixed tilted solar PV (top) and onshore wind (bottom) resource
potentials in Turkmenistan.
The data regarding biomass were taken from United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization [25], which in fact was
statistically imputed based on data from neighbouring
Central Asian states. The biomass potential consists of crop
and forest residues, biowaste and municipal solid waste. The
applied method is detailed in Mensah et al. [34].
More detailed data regarding financial and technical
assumptions can be found in the Supplementary Material
(Tables S1-S10).
E. ENERGY TRANSITION PATHWAYS
The consequence of heavy government subsidies is relatively
very low costs of electricity and gas in the country and these
numbers were used as inputs for the model. The abnormally
low prices and unusual absolute reliance on gas turbines in
the power sector necessitated a slightly different approach in
simulation. Seven different scenarios were simulated to
accommodate the transition challenges. TABLE I that shows
the details of different scenarios studied. The different
scenarios enabled deeper understanding of the possible future
paths for energy transition in Turkmenistan. First, a Current
Policy Scenario (CPS) was simulated with business-as-usual
assumptions, with no objective to cut GHG emissions or
switch to sustainable energy resources. The CPS describes
the consequences of state inaction towards climate change
and serves as a baseline in the discussion. Next, the CPS30
scenario was simulated assuming introduction of RE
technologies in the year 2030, to imitate a scenario where the
country is left with no choice but to start transitioning in the
future with increasing international pressure. As the leading
developed countries in the world are expected to be in later
stages of their energy transition and as people around the
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
world start experiencing extreme natural events more
frequently, it is expected that the pressure will start mounting
on environmentally underperforming nations such as
Turkmenistan. Next, a Best Policy Scenario Standard (BPS-
St) was simulated with a gradually increasing pace of RE
integration: maximum 3% per year RE share in total capacity
increase between 2020-2025 and 4% afterwards, until 100%
RE in 2050. Similarly, BPS-3, BPS-4 and BPS-5 scenarios
were simulated to better understand the effects of different
RE integration rates, with 3%, 4% and 5% maximum RE
share in total capacity increase per year, respectively. Finally,
a Best Policy Scenario without Carbon Costs (BPSwoCC)
was simulated to understand the impact of a carbon emissions
pricing on the energy transition pace and costs.
TABLE I. Energy Transition Scenarios applied.
Scenario
RE integration
rate [%]
GHG
emissions cost
[€/tCO2eq]
Fischer-
Tropsch
[yes/no]
CPS
0%
0
No
CPS30
2020-2030: 0%
2030-2050: 4%
2020-2030: 0
2035: 68
2040: 75
2045: 100
2050: 150
Yes, after
2030
BPS-St
2020-2025: 3%
2025-2050: 4%
2020: 28
2025: 52
2030: 61
2035: 68
2040: 75
2045: 100
2050: 150
Yes
BPS-3
3%
Yes
BPS-4
4%
Yes
BPS-5
5%
Yes
BPSwoCC
4%
0
Yes
III. RESULTS
All seven scenarios were modelled based on the
Turkmenistan specific input data for the period from 2020 to
2050 using the LUT Energy System Transition Model in full
hourly resolution. The model outputs, the energy system
structure and hourly operation profiles for all technologies
were postprocessed to calculate additional metrics of the
system performance such as system cost, levelised cost of
electricity, total primary energy supply (TPES),
electrification rate, etc. A methodological flow chart is
presented in Fig. 8.
FIGURE 8. Methodological flow chart.
The results of all scenarios are presented in a concise manner
as follows: overview of the scenarios are presented and
general trends are noted in section A, section B presents how
electricity generation and storage across all sectors develop
throughout the transition; it is followed by energy supply for
power, heat and transport sectors in section C, and finally,
annualised energy system costs and GHG emissions are
presented in section D.
A. GENERAL TRENDS IN THE APPLIED SCENARIOS
Among the seven scenarios, the BPS-5, that had the most
rapid rate of renewable energy integration, enables the least
levelised cost of energy, fastest reduction of GHG emissions
and thus the least cumulative GHG emissions in 2050. The
BPS-5 reaches the second lowest cumulative pathway cost.
Only the BPSwoCC is lower in cost, as cost for GHG
emissions are not considered. Henceforth, the BPS-5 scenario
shall be used as the benchmark.
Final energy demand goes through a phase of lower demand
mid-transition and grows again to the initial level in 2050.
Fig. 9 (top) demonstrates that final energy demand falls to
133 TWh in 2035 thanks to efficiency gains related to
reduction in fuel consumption in the transport sector due to
fast efficiency gains in road transport and grows again to 148
TWh in 2050. The electricity consumption per capita grows
from slightly less than 4 MWh up to 5.4 MWh (Fig. 9,
bottom). Primary energy demand per capita can be found in
the Supplementary Material (Fig. S37).
FIGURE 9. Final energy demand (top) and electricity consumption per
capita with population (bottom) through the transition in the BPS-5.
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The final energy demand and electricity per capita growth is
limited as Turkmenistan already has achieved high electricity
penetration and has subsidised access to fuels for heating and
transportation. Thus, the final energy demand only slightly
increases with rising population.
Fig. 10 shows the energy flow in Turkmenistan’s 2050
energy system in the BPS-5. The energy system becomes
much more complex with intensive sector coupling. Majority
of primary energy is used in the form of electricity, mostly
from solar PV and wind. Heat demand is mostly satisfied by
environmental heat via heat pumps. Transport sector final
energy demand is much lower in contrast to the year 2020
(Fig. 1) and it is mostly satisfied by electricity and some
synthetic fuels. Losses mostly consist of heat losses in fuel
conversion units producing hydrogen and synthetic fuels, and
some curtailment in the power sector. The losses and
curtailment are recoverable, and they may be further reduced
with industry integration and international power exchange.
Curtailment during the transition and ratio of curtailment to
generated electricity can be found in the Supplementary
Material (Fig. S13).
FIGURE 10. Energy system of Turkmenistan in 2050 in the BPS-5. All units are in TWh.
Due to high electrification of the entire energy system and
subsequent energy efficiency gains (Fig. 11), primary energy
demand is projected to decrease in almost all scenarios,
except for the CPS, for which fossil fuel use and its overall
low efficiency level is continued without changes (Fig. 12).
The composition of primary energy supply shifts from fossil
gas, oil and coal today to RE sources in 2050 in the BPS-5.
RE sources, such as solar PV and wind, supply electricity as
primary energy at the first point of extraction from nature and
thus electrify the primary energy supply. Direct electricity
supply from renewables removes one major point of losses
where usually fossil fuels are converted to electricity in
thermal power plants with efficiencies less than 40%. This
electrification happens uniformly in all BPS variations,
except the BPSwoCC where the rate dwindles down in later
years because there are no incentives to fully get rid of fossil
fuels in this scenario. The CPS continues relying on fossil
fuels thus the electrification does not happen in primary
energy supply, whereas CPS30 starts electrifying as soon as
it is allowed to install renewables in 2030.
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FIGURE 11. Electrification rate among all scenarios (top) and efficiency
gains in primary energy demand in the BPS-5 (bottom) through the
transition. Electrification rate is defined as the share of electricity in total
primary energy demand.
High electrification also takes place in the heat and transport
sectors, as electric heat pumps and electric resistance heaters
become major heat generation technologies and BEVs
replace ICE cars. The electric counterparts offer efficiency
gains of several factors. The electric resistance heaters
convert all consumed electric energy into heat, therefore
offering 100% efficiency. Heat pumps allow to utilise the
“free” ambient heat of the environment, providing 3.2 kWh
and 4.5 kWh of heat for each kWh of electricity for district
heating and individual heating heat pumps, thus effectively
offering a coefficient of performance of 3.2 and 4.5,
respectively. Similarly, electric drives convert almost all
electric current into kinetic motion, with some losses related
to electricity inversion, storage and friction, in practice
offering >80% efficiency [35]. In addition, renewable
sources of electricity, such as solar PV and wind, enable a
much more direct extraction of energy from nature and for
the highest possible exergy level, as electricity is generated
directly, thus eliminating many conversion losses, compared
to relatively inefficient fossil fuel fired thermal power and
heat plants. Accordingly, primary energy demand falls
sharply in all scenarios mid-transition in 2040, except CPS
and CPS30. Though primary energy demand grows later in
2050, due to overall growth of final energy demand, it still
remains below the primary energy demand as of today and
CPS in 2050. Fig. 11 (bottom) demonstrates the reduction in
primary energy demand due to the high electrification rate in
the BPS-5; the solid bars show the potential gains in
efficiency relative to the business-as-usual path (dashed). The
primary energy demand breakdown by fuel and sector can be
found in the Supplementary Material (Fig. S36 and Table
S17).
FIGURE 12. Primary energy demand among all scenarios through the transition.
The BPSwoCC demonstrates the least primary energy
demand in 2050. The absence of carbon pricing in this
scenario removes the pressure to switch away from fossil
fuels, therefore the transport sector, that is harder to electrify
(aviation), continues relying on fossil kerosene and marine
fuel, instead of switching to RE-based Power-to-X fuels [36],
[37].
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
Electrification Rate
BPS-St
BPS-3
BPS-4
BPS-5
BPSwoCC
CPS30
CPS
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B. ELECTRICITY GENERATION AND ENERGY
STORAGE
While solar PV and wind power provide over 90% of
electricity in 2050 in all BPS variations (Fig. 13), except
BPSwoCC, gas turbines continue playing a vital role in the
energy system of Turkmenistan and are run with RE-based
synthetic natural gas (SNG) with zero net GHG emissions, as
the CO2 is provided by direct air capture units [38]. In the
BPS-5, electricity from gas turbines solely comes from
combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT) at about 640 full load
hours (FLH) in 2050, while the fuel used is RE-based.
Notably, in the BPSwoCC gas turbines still constitute an even
higher share of about 20% of electricity generation capacity
mainly CCGT at 730 FLH and some open-cycle gas turbines
(OCGT) at very low FLH in 2050, because there is less
economic pressure to cut GHG emission in this scenario. The
CPS30 follows the CPS until the year 2030, but swiftly
installs RE capacities and majority of electricity comes from
solar PV and wind sources by 2050, cutting GHG emissions
and reducing levelised cost of electricity (LCOE).
Wind electricity generation dominates RE generation in the
beginning of the transition, providing over 80% of renewable
electricity in 2030. However, solar PV overtakes all other
forms of electricity generation and becomes the major
electricity supply source by 2040 in all scenarios except the
CPS, thanks to ever declining costs and improving
efficiencies, as described in Vartiainen et al. [32]. Solar PV
provides over 75% of electricity in all BPS variations and
almost 60% in the BPSwoCC in 2050. Over 47% of
electricity comes from solar PV in the CPS30, overtaking all
other forms of electricity generation in mere 20 years.
FIGURE 13: Electricity generation among all scenarios through the transition.
Unsurprisingly, bioenergy plays a miniscule role in
electricity generation among all scenarios through the
transition, owing to the fact that there is little biomass
available in Turkmenistan.
Hydropower electricity generation is nearly absent in all
scenarios. No new hydroelectric power plant installations are
planned in Turkmenistan owing to the limited resource
availability. Only one currently existing 1.2 MW hydropower
plant is operating in all scenarios. Hydro resource availability
is infinitesimal next to solar and wind resources in
Turkmenistan.
Breakdown of electricity generation over the transition by
sector can be found in the Supplementary Material (Fig. S11).
The transition away from dispatchable thermal power plants
necessitates utilisation of flexibility options which can be
provided by sector coupling, in particular by electrolysers,
but also by installing energy storage technologies.
Considering that no geothermal, hydropower, or almost no
bioenergy is present in any of the scenarios, and as the energy
system is mainly based on variable wind and solar PV,
adequate storage technologies and capacities are very
important, next to other flexibility options, as detailed in [39],
to be able to sustain stable and secure electricity supply
especially in times when neither of the main energy sources
are available. One way to secure a stable supply of electricity
is open cycle gas turbines that stay in the system from the pre-
transition period. Their advantage is that open cycle gas
turbines with short start-up time provide flexibility in
ensuring electricity supply for peak-demand and the used fuel
can be fully switched from fossil gas to biomethane and SNG.
Storage technologies such as utility-scale batteries are
necessary in order to store the direct electricity of solar PV
and wind turbines. Learning rates are high and so the costs
are declining rapidly [32]. Thus, utility-scale batteries
become the dominant energy storage option in terms of
throughput in almost all scenarios, except the CPS30 and
CPS. While capacity-wise gas storage stands out as the
largest energy storage capacity (Fig. 14, top), batteries cover
diurnal energy needs, going through full cycles every day,
thus making up the majority of storage throughput (Fig. 14,
bottom).
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
FIGURE 14. Energy storage capacities (top) and storage throughput
(bottom) in 2050 among all scenarios.
Gas storage ensures energy availability for seasonal and
heating needs. It is important to notice that gas storage here
does not refer to underground reservoirs for fossil gas, but
storage for synthetic natural gas. In order to cut net GHG
emissions, it is important to phase out fossil gas usage in
power and heat sectors and use electricity-based Power-to-X
methane to power gas turbines, next to biomethane.
Fig. 15 (top) demonstrates the state-of-charge pattern for gas
storage in Turkmenistan throughout a year in the BPS-5 in
2050. As can be seen, gas storage starts being discharged in
the winter months when there is less sunshine available for
solar PV electricity generation, and it starts being charged in
mid-spring as more and more sunshine is available to power
water electrolysis and methanation plants to produce SNG for
charging the storage.
In contrast, battery storage demonstrates a daily charging and
discharging profile (Fig. 15, bottom). Charging periods are
during the sunshine hours and discharging starts in the later
afternoon hours.
FIGURE 15. Gas (top) and battery (bottom) storage annual state-of-
charge patterns in the BPS-5 in 2050.
In addition to electricity storage, heat storage technologies
will also play a significant role in the energy system to match
heat supply and demand in an optimised way (Fig. 16).
Thermal energy storage covers about 15% of heat demand at
11 TWh of the total 75 TWh in the BPS-5 in 2050. Heat
generation and storage stands out in the CPS30 due to the fact
that the CPS30 heavily leans on concentrated solar power
(CSP) installations, therefore heat contributes more to
primary energy supply (Fig. 12). The high CSP share in the
CPS30 is related to the high LCOE (Fig. 23), which blocks
Power-to-Heat routes. Subsequently, more heat storage is
utilised in the CPS30 compared to other scenarios.
0
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000
6000
7000
8000
Storage Capacity 2050 (GW)
Energy storage capacities
Battery prosumers
Battery system
DH storage (LT heat)
TES (MT heat)
A-CAES
PHES
Gas (CH4) storage
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
Storage throughput 2050 (TWh)
Storage throughput
Battery prosumers
Battery system
DH storage (LT heat)
TES (MT heat)
A-CAES
PHES
Gas (CH4) storage
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
FIGURE 16. Heat storage output vs. heat generation among all scenarios through the transition.
C. ENERGY SUPPLY FOR POWER, HEAT AND
TRANSPORT
Primary energy demand decreases due to high electrification
in all scenarios, excluding the CPS. High electrification is
simply inevitable as electric appliances and technologies
offer much higher efficiencies compared to their non-electric
counterparts. As can be seen in Fig. 17, it is possible to reach
100% renewable electricity generation if right incentives and
mechanisms are set in place, as in the BPS variations.
FIGURE 17: Electricity generation among all scenarios through the transition.
In the BPS variations the power sector undergoes a radical
transformation from fossil fuel thermal power plants to
renewable energy and inverter-based technologies. As can be
seen in Fig. 18, the majority of newly installed RE capacities
consist of wind power at 3.5 GW in 2025 and 7 GW in 2030
in the BPS-5, whereas utility-scale solar PV takes off from
2035 onwards as the least cost option, totalling 79 GW in
2050 in the BPS-5. Subsequently, almost all electricity is
supplied by solar PV and wind power in the BPS-5 in 2050.
The installation of CAPEX dominated RE technologies and
diminishing use of fossil fuels has a strong impact on the
LCOE structure, as discussed in section 3.4.
Wind power consists of onshore wind, as offshore territories
of Turkmenistan were not considered in this study. Moreover,
the best sites for wind power are found in the north-western
region of Turkmenistan, with consistent winds above 6 m/s
[11], [16].
0
20
40
60
80
100
2020 2030 2040 2050
Heat storage output vs generation [TWhth]
Heat storage output
Heat generation
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Among solar PV technologies, fixed-tilted PV power plants
at an optimal tilt angle constitute the majority of installations,
compared to single-axis tracking and rooftop PV (Fig. 18).
Though on average single-axis tracking PV systems are
economically better performing globally [40], fixed-tilted PV
is able to deliver electricity in Turkmenistan at lower cost in
the energy system.
FIGURE 18. New installations (top) and cumulative (bottom) electricity
generation capacities in 5-year intervals in the BPS-5 through the
transition.
The heat supply mix is expected to change significantly from
today’s fossil gas-powered boilers to mostly electric, solar
thermal and biomass heaters in 2050 in all scenarios, except
the CPS (Fig. 19). This supply mix helps to cut GHG
emissions in the heat sector [41]. Electric heating includes
electric resistance heaters and heat pumps. Electrification is
inevitable, as the electric counterparts offer much higher
efficiencies. Solar thermal heat supply includes solar thermal
collectors and concentrated solar thermal plants. The CPS30,
in contrast to other scenarios, relies strongly on solar thermal
heat generation, which coincides with substantially higher
LCOE. CPS30 has similar technical and financial
assumptions as in the BPS variations, however, due to the
delayed RE technologies introduction in 2030, the LCOE
suffers from early high-cost investments, blocking more use
of direct electric heat supply options. Still solar thermal is a
very good zero GHG emissions replacement to fossil gas heat
boilers that takes advantage of high direct solar irradiance
availability in Turkmenistan.
Final heat energy demand breakdown by fuel can be found in
the Supplementary Material (Fig. S25 and Table S14).
FIGURE 19. Heat generation among all scenarios through the transition.
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
With high electrification, final energy demand for transport
sector is expected to fall significantly in all scenarios, from
74 TWh today to slightly more than 30 TWh in 2050 (Fig.
20). Highly efficient electric vehicles will cover the land
mobility needs of future Turkmens while simultaneously
cutting GHG emissions [41]. Final transport energy demand
breakdown by fuel can be found in the Supplementary
Material (Fig. S26 and Table S15).
FIGURE 20. Final energy demand for transport through the transition.
Aviation energy demand will be covered by sustainably
sourced hydrogen and Fischer-Tropsch fuels (Fig. 22).
Weight sensitive aircrafts rely on fuels with high energy
density, where lithium-ion batteries with relatively low
energy density of the fuel, i.e., stored electricity, are not
optimal. Power-to-Fuels technologies, such as water
electrolysis and the Fischer-Tropsch process [36] allow to
move from fossil to sustainable fuels in the transport sector
and cut GHG emissions. Newly installed fuel conversion
technologies, mainly water electrolysis, CO2 direct air
capture and Fischer-Tropsch units (Fig. 21) will enable to
produce 7 TWh of electricity-based kerosene-type jet fuel
and diesel (Fig. 22). However, the fuel conversion
technologies will increase the cost of fuel for the aviation
sector and it is reflected in final transportation costs, shown
in the next section. A more detailed breakdown of final
energy demand of the transport sector can be found in the
Supplementary Material (Fig. S1-S5).
FIGURE 21. Installed capacities for fuel conversion technologies (top) and
CO2 direct air capture and CO2 storage (bottom) in the BPS-5 through the
transition.
FIGURE 22. Final energy demand for the transport sector by sources among all scenarios through the transition.
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
2020 2030 2040 2050
Final energy for transport [TWh]
Fossil Fuels
Bio - Fuels
FT Fuels
Methane
Hydrogen
Electricity
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
Notably, the BPSwoCC continues relying on some amount of
fossil fuels for transportation. Switching to Power-to-X fuels
would not be the best economic option in this artificial
scenario, where there are no societal costs of emitting CO2.
More importantly, even this scenario switches the majority of
transportation to electricity as it is economically
disadvantageous to continue relying on traditional internal
combustion engines [41].
D. ANNUALISED ENERGY SYSTEM COSTS AND
GHG EMISSIONS
All scenarios that introduce renewable energy into the energy
mix demonstrate lower LCOE (Fig. 23, top) and lower total
annualised cost (Fig. 23, bottom), thanks to ever falling costs
of RE technologies and practically infinite supply of solar
irradiation and wind. The BPS-5 with the highest share of
renewables can reach LCOE of less than 45 €/MWh in 2050.
Solar PV technology, the main energy supply source in the
BPS variations, has demonstrated a steady decline in cost
over the last few decades and is already more cost-effective
in comparison to fossil fuel generation sources today and it
will certainly continue to decline in cost even further [32],
[42]. Wind power converting technologies have also
demonstrated a steady decline in electricity generation costs.
The trends in the wind turbine industry will enable further
cost reduction per unit of energy, due to larger blade
diameters, higher hub heights, more efficient power
electronics and better wind forecasting systems [33]. The
main takeaway among the scenarios in this study is that RE-
based energy system reduces the LCOE and annualised
system costs relative to the CPS regardless of the rate of
integration of RE technologies.
FIGURE 23. Levelised cost of electricity (top) and total annualised energy
system cost (bottom) among all scenarios through the transition.
The BPS variations result in lower cumulative costs by 2050
than the CPS (Fig. 24). The BPSwoCC has even lower
annualised cost but that is due to the fact that it artificially
does not include CO2 costs. It leads to least cumulative
pathway costs but that could only be thinkable if there were
no impacts from GHG emissions.
FIGURE 24. Cumulative pathway costs among all scenarios through the
transition.
A more detailed breakdown of transition costs can be found
in the Supplementary Material in Tables S11-S12 and Fig.
S6-S10, S15 for the power sector, Table S13 and Fig. S17-
35
45
55
65
75
85
95
105
2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
LCOE (€/MWh)
BPS-St
BPS-3
BPS-4
BPS-5
BPSwoCC
CPS30
CPS
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
Total annualised energy system cost (b€)
BPS-St
BPS-3
BPS-4
BPS-5
BPSwoCC
CPS30
CPS
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
Cumulative pathway cost (b€)
BPS-St
BPS-3
BPS-4
BPS-5
BPSwoCC
CPS30
CPS
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
S19, S21, S22, S24 for the heat sector, Fig. S27-S32 for the
transport sector and Fig. S38 for total annual system cost.
The composition of the levelised cost of energy is expected
to move from fuel and GHG emissions cost dominance today
and become dominated by capital and operational
expenditures by 2050 (Fig. 25, top). Though a 100% RE
system allows to decrease the overall cost per unit of energy,
from over 58 €/MWh to 56 €/MWh, the renewable energy
and storage technologies require higher capital investments
per MWh compared to the fossil fuel powered counterparts
(Fig. 25, bottom). Capital investments in the order of more
than 10 b will be required in the upcoming decades to
upgrade the fossil fuel-based energy system to a RE-based
system. As can be seen in Fig. 25 (bottom), the investments
are not only in power generation technologies, such as wind
and solar PV, but also in heat generation, energy storage and
fuel conversion technologies. The increase in fixed
operational expenditure entails more local jobs in operations
and maintenance that are required to keep the energy system
up and running, resulting in another indirect benefit of
switching to a 100% RE-based system [43].
FIGURE 25. Levelised cost of energy (top) and capital expenditures in 5-
year intervals (bottom) in the BPS-5 through the transition.
The decrease in final energy demand in the transport sector
helps to decrease the final transport energy cost as well, from
3.8 b today to 2.3 b in 2050 (Fig. 26).
FIGURE 26. Final transport energy cost in the BPS-5 through the
transition.
Moreover, thanks to high electrification, the cost of transport
per kilometre is also expected to drop (Fig. 27, bottom).
While the cost of road transport per kilometre drops by over
50%, both in passenger and freight transport, the aviation cost
per kilometre slightly rises, because the switch to Power-to-
X fuels is expected to increase the cost of fuel for aviation.
FIGURE 27. Final transport passenger (top) and freight (bottom) kilometer
costs in the BPS-5 through the transition.
The CPS results in over 47 MtCO2eq annual emissions (Fig.
28, top) and leads to over 1300 MtCO2eq cumulative
emissions by 2050 (Fig. 28, bottom). While short-term
emissions may fall thanks to high electrification and
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
efficiency improvements in combined cycle gas turbines,
such as the recently installed Mary-3 combined cycle power
plant, long-term emissions will remain at unsustainable
levels. The introduction of low to zero GHG emitting RE
technologies will help to significantly cut GHG emissions as
seen in all other scenarios. The CO2 emissions related to solar
PV and wind power converting technologies only occur
during their manufacturing phase [44]. Without a
fundamental breakthrough in energy storage technologies,
the aviation transport mode is expected to continue relying
primarily on jet fuel. However, Power-to-X technologies,
such as the well understood Fischer-Tropsch process
developed in the beginning of 20th century, allows to cut the
GHG emissions of the transport sector to zero. It is worth
noting the GHG emissions in the CPS30 compared to the
BPSwoCC in 2050: the CPS30 is capable of reaching lower
annual GHG emissions in 2050 even though it only starts
introducing RE technologies a decade later than the
BPSwoCC. BPSwoCC fails to cut GHG emissions down to
zero as there is no economic pressure to do so and for this
reason it is important to include societal costs of emitting
GHG to fully get rid of them.
FIGURE 28. Annual (top) and cumulative (bottom) GHG emissions among
all scenarios through the transition.
A more detailed breakdown of GHG emissions can be found
in the Supplementary Material in Fig. S14-S15 for the power
sector, Fig. S23-S24 for the heat sector, Fig. S33 for the
transport sector and Fig. S39 and Table S18 for total GHG
emissions.
IV. DISCUSSION
A. OVERALL FINDINGS
This study with various transition pathways demonstrates
that a 100% RE system in Turkmenistan is economically
viable and technically feasible. Seven scenarios demonstrate
the effects of different rates of RE integration into the energy
system and can help policymakers, potential investors, and
other stakeholders in Turkmenistan to shape the future
development in the country. All scenarios, except the CPS,
demonstrate that it is possible to quickly switch to renewable
sources of energy in Turkmenistan in a cost-effective way.
The CPS confirms this fundamental finding, since it is the
least efficient and highest cost option among all scenarios and
the CPS30 demonstrates the positive effects of these two key
system metrics, if the energy system receives more freedom
from the year 2030 onwards to switch to a RE dominated
system. Turkmenistan, awash with solar irradiation year-
round and with its desert plains with strong winds, is one of
the best regions for solar PV systems and wind power, with
FLH of up to 1710 and 2733 for solar PV and wind energy,
leading to LCOE of 80.6 €/MWh in 2030 and 44 €/MWh in
2050, respectively.
Growing population along with a growing economy,
increasing standards of living and access to low-cost energy
is projected to result in both relative and absolute growth in
final energy demand in all scenarios. Continual reliance on
fossil fuels as primary energy supply will result in growth of
fossil fuel consumption and ever increasing GHG emissions
and associated costs. As demonstrated in the BPS and CPS30
scenarios, switching to RE resources helps to cut primary
energy demand and minimise GHG emissions. Thus,
transitioning towards 100% RE systems is a key element to
reach the Clean Energy target of the United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals, however an accelerated RE
introduction can be an integral element of policies needed to
reach other Sustainable Development Goals as discussed for
cases of Indonesia [45] or Indian states [46].
In this study, BPS variations and the CPS30 demonstrate that
the introduction of RE not only helps to cut GHG emissions
but also it is economically advantageous to switch to
renewable sources of energy. The BPS-5 scenario with a 5%
rate of increasing the capacity share of annual RE integration
not only enables the lowest LCOE but also the least total
annualised costs, in addition to quickly cutting GHG
emissions down to zero. However, it needs to be noted that
such a high RE phase-in has not been observed yet anywhere
in the world, as more than 3% of annual capacity share
growth of RE is hardly found [47]. One of the fastest RE
ramps in generation ever recorded has been Uruguay with
generation increase from 60% to 98% renewables within
eight years, which reveals a phase-in rate of 4.75% for the
increase of annual generation shares.
PV will play the most significant role in the energy transition
of Turkmenistan, representing up to 74-79% of all electricity
generation in 2050 in the BPS variations. The energy demand
and supply balance is found for each hour in this variable RE
based system, mainly via using battery storage and flexible
energy supply for PtX. This shows that 100% RE systems can
also be built in countries with good solar resources, but weak
to moderate wind potentials as India, Indonesia and other Sun
0
10
20
30
40
50
2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
Years
GHG Emissions [MtCO2eq]
CPS
CPS30
BPSwoCC
BPS-3
BPS-St
BPS-4
BPS-5
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050
Years
Cumulative GHG emissions [MtCO2eq]
CPS
CPS30
BPSwoCC
BPS-3
BPS-St
BPS-4
BPS-5
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
Belt countries. Several of these countries are currently major
fossil fuels exporters, and local energy systems of many of
them are also mostly based on fossil fuels. However, the
results of the modelling show, that if local fossil fuels
subsidies are not taken into account and fuels prices are on
open market levels, then RE cost outrivals the cost of
traditional fossil fuels based generation.
This study also demonstrates the effects of different RE
integration rates into an energy system that relies solely on
fossil gas power generation. The common thread among all
scenarios is that any rate of RE integration cuts costs on top
of reducing GHG emissions. There is neither environmental
nor economic advantage of continuing the reliance on fossil
fuels. However, all scenarios imply a strong uncertainty of
possible future paths of Turkmenistan’s national energy
system and it is impossible to predict the actual development
with high certainty. Besides the assumptions made in this
study, several other factors will influence and shape the
future development such as social acceptance of RE
investments and installations or acceptance of continuing the
present path of destroying economic value for the country in
avoiding RE investments, while uncertainties related to the
economic health of the nation may influence both
fundamental policy options. Some factors, such as an almost
inevitable increase in frequencies of extreme natural events
[1], may even urge the government to switch to renewable
sources of energy in a quicker manner than the most rapid
scenario in this study.
The abundance of natural resources and relatively recent
investments in gas turbines and gas infrastructure lead to
some interesting results. This built-out gas infrastructure
continues to play a vital role in the energy system of
Turkmenistan in all scenarios. As can be seen in results, gas
turbines can facilitate the transition to variable renewable
energy sources by providing flexibility to the system. In short
to mid-term, fossil gas can serve as a crucial balancing option
during particularly cloudy or windless days in a cost-optimal
way while simultaneously avoiding becoming stranded
assets.
Flexibility and energy storage as a key flexibility option will
play a vital role in a 100% RE system, enabling temporal shift
in energy supply and thus providing flexibility for variable
RE. With continuously declining cost, batteries become the
main energy storage technology in all scenarios, except the
CPS and CPS30. On top of that, thermal energy storage
technologies facilitate the integration of variable renewable
heat generation resources, such as solar heat collectors and
concentrating solar power plants. Smart charging of BEV and
vehicle-to-grid (V2G), an emerging new approach to
flexibility and energy storage, was not considered in this
study, although it may play a relevant role in 100% RE
energy systems of the future [48]. It is demonstrated in [49]
and [50] that high V2G participation can help decrease the
need for peak power capacity, long-term gas storage, water
electrolysis and fuel conversion capacities and subsequently
lower total annualised costs. The curtailment in the BPS
variations reaches values between 4.1% to 4.8% in 2040
(except the BPS-3 with only 1.2% due to a slow RE phase-
in) and 5.0% to 5.9% in 2050. Such values are regularly
observed in sector coupled 100% RE systems [51], [52] and
further confirm the RE penetration-storage-curtailment nexus
found on the case of Israel [53], which has similar resource
conditions as Turkmenistan.
Theoretically, Turkmenistan should be able to bypass
utilising energy storage all together, thanks to huge proven
reserves of fossil gas. Gas turbines would be able to supply
power absent the sunshine or wind. However, that would
entail more GHG emissions and the associated costs of GHG
emissions, while it would block least cost energy system
solutions. The combination of RE sources and storage
technologies is the best environmental and economic option
even for a country with domestic fossil fuel supply such as
Turkmenistan as an existing domestic energy supply option
is substituted with an even more beneficial sustainable
domestic energy supply option.
The transport sector shall undergo a radical transformation,
switching to much more efficient vehicles and cutting final
energy demand by half. Though transportation demand rises
overall, the final energy demand decreases due to
electrification of the road vehicles fleet thanks to efficiency
gains of several factors. Direct electrification of the aviation
sector will be possible for short distance flights after 2030 [7]
whereas longer distance aviation can be indirectly electrified
thanks to Power-to-X technologies. Indirect electrification
does not have a strong negative effect on efficiency, but it
helps to cut GHG emissions of the aviation sector. The
Power-to-Fuels technologies allow to create liquid
hydrocarbons by combining carbon from the CO2 captured
from the atmosphere and hydrogen from the water. However,
it is important to have sustainably sourced carbon and
hydrogen in order to have zero net-emissions of CO2. CO2
direct air capture [38] or point source CO2 capture
technologies, such as for cement mills [54], will be able to
provide sustainable or otherwise unavoidable carbon,
whereas water electrolysis will allow to create hydrogen by
the well-known water electrolysis process. In addition, these
energy-intensive PtX technologies convert large amounts of
electricity from solar PV and wind turbines into
hydrocarbons, while providing a very high flexibility to the
entire energy system [19], [52], which also effectively limits
curtailment of electricity. Fig. 29 shows the operational
dynamics of the entire energy system and in particular of
electrolysers providing the green hydrogen for the PtX
routes. The best and worst week of the BPS-5 for the 2050
energy system design is shown and documents the enormous
flexibility enabled by electrolysers, but also the diurnal
energy storage function of batteries.
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
FIGURE 29. Worst (top) and best (bottom) week of solar electricity production in Turkmenistan in the BPS-5 in 2050.
B. RELATED STUDIES
The results of this study are in line with the findings of recent
energy transition studies in other countries around the world,
specifically the dominance of solar PV in electricity
generation [19], [55][57] and cost savings related to
transitioning to sustainable forms of energy [58]. Breyer et
al. [55] investigate the role of solar PV in energy transition
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
on a global level, employing high temporal and high spatial
modelling and conclude that solar PV technology will emerge
to be the “most relevant source of energy in the mid-term to
long-term for the global energy supply” thanks to ever
decreasing costs of PV systems and battery storage
technologies. Bogdanov et al. [17] identified that the global
average of solar PV share in electricity generation can be
expected to reach about 70% in mid-century, while this can
reach levels beyond 90% in Sun Belt countries [51], [59]
[63]. Tavana et al. [56] studied the RE potential for the
energy transition of Iran, a geographically similar country to
Turkmenistan with a comparable energy system heavily
dependent on fossil fuels. Tavana et al. [56] similarly present
several transition scenarios with different RE integration
rates and demonstrate the high potential of solar PV and wind
power technologies and that they are technically and
economically feasible, albeit with slightly conservative solar
PV cost and efficiency assumptions. Ghorbani et al. [57] have
undertaken a detailed energy transition study for Iran in high
geo-spatial resolution to determine cost-optimal pathways
towards full sustainability of Iran’s energy system; though
only power sector and desalination sectors along with non-
energetic gas sector were simulated, the authors similarly
conclude that solar PV will dominate the electricity supply in
the BPS in 2050.
C. IMPLICATIONS
Turkmenistan’s lack of national determination towards
concrete sustainability targets is alarming and should be
addressed immediately. Specifically, more focus must be
paid to the promotion of RE technologies. The current
business-as-usual case is unsustainable, and high in cost as
clearly documented by the CPS. A renewables-based energy
system enables progress on all three pillars of sustainability:
environment, economy and society.
The results for the case of Turkmenistan strongly indicates
that accelerated phase-in policies for renewables are of high
economic relevance in a general perspective. Empirical data
indicates that only a few countries had been able to phase-in
RE capacities at an annual rate of 3% increase in relative
capacity share over periods of five years or longer, while only
Uruguay is known for ramping the relative RE generation
share close to 5% for almost a decade. However, the BPS-5
for the case of Turkmenistan shows that such a very high RE
phase-in rate is the economically most beneficial case, while
it reduces the GHG emissions in the fastest way. Given the
fast decline in remaining carbon budgets, it is of highest
relevance that very fast declining GHG emissions pathways
positively coincide with economic performance.
The results also show that without considering direct or
indirect fossil fuels subsidies and the fuels cost set on the
global market level, the cost of RE-based generation is lower
than the cost of traditional fossil gas based generation already
today. The example of Norway may be a blueprint for the
government of Turkmenistan: achieving highest levels of RE
utilisation for domestic least cost energy supply, while
maximising exports of fossil gas to laggard countries in the
energy transition. This obviously seems to be a strategy for
generating highest societal welfare.
It is important to note the cumulative GHG emissions in the
BPS variations in later years of the transition they flatten
out and remain almost constant throughout the later years
(Fig. 28, bottom). According to Rogelj et al. [64], intended
nationally determined contributions by members states of
UNFCCC will not be enough to keep the global warming
below 2°C, while stating that “substantial over-delivery on
current INDCs” will be needed to achieve the goal of keeping
global warming below 2°C and even further efforts to keep it
below 1.5°C. Meanwhile, the remaining carbon budgets
further decline due to triggered feedback loops of the
planetary climate system [65]. The CO2 emitted to the
atmosphere will have to go down and be either utilised or
stored, for which CO2 direct air capture is a major option as
it may enable massive utilisation of CO2 as a raw material
and in a second phase the transition to negative CO2
emissions in the future [66].
These results are achieved for conditions of Turkmenistan but
can be also applied to other countries with similar solar
irradiation conditions: 100% RE systems can be built mostly
on basis of solar PV, with rather limited shares of other
resources such as wind, hydropower and bioenergy.
Nevertheless, the energy demand and supply balance is found
for every hour and reliable operation of the variable RE based
system can be reached at a cost level lower than in the current
fossil fuel based energy system.
D. LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
FUTURE RESEARCH
This study is one of the first of its kind for investigating the
pathway options of Turkmenistan’s energy system, for which
more research is required. There is a dire need to study the
energy system of Turkmenistan from different perspectives
with more granular data. The data used in this study, such as
energy demand profile and population, may not fully match
the latest numbers. As an example, the unusual bulge in the
electricity per capita mid-transition (Fig. 9, bottom) is
probably related to mismatch between real population and
data used for this study. A 100% renewables based energy
system potentially offers even more benefits to the nation
when considering job creation [43], water desalination [67],
industry sector integration [19] and power exchange over
regional cross-border grids [68]. The results of this research
clearly indicate that it would be beneficial to conduct further
studies on societal benefits of RE-based energy system, grid
capacity requirements within Turkmenistan and international
cross-border grid capacity, but also water demand, supply
and desalination aspects in Turkmenistan.
V. CONCLUSIONS
Turkmenistan has been blessed with natural fossil fuel
resources and it is awash in renewable energy resources to an
even greater extent. The LUT Energy System Transition
Model was used to analyse seven different energy system
pathways for Turkmenistan, employing a multi-node high
resolution sector coupling approach. The results of this study
show that RE, sector coupling, and storage technologies can
sufficiently cover the national energy demand at every hour
throughout a year. Solar PV and wind power can lead the
transition to a fully sustainable 100% renewable energy
system in Turkmenistan, cutting GHG emissions to zero.
Low-cost solar PV and wind electricity, efficiency gains and
effective energy sector coupling can enable a reduction in
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Rasul Satymov: The value of fast transitioning to a fully sustainable energy system: The case of Turkmenistan
levelised cost of electricity in Turkmenistan from 87 €/MWh
in 2020 to 44 €/MWh in 2050, while the overall levelised cost
of energy in 2050 will stay on the same level as in 2020.
Pathways of delayed or blocked renewable energy
investments lead to higher energy system cost and higher
GHG emissions. Direct and indirect electrification of heat
and transport sectors will help to cut GHG emissions in these
sectors to zero and reduce the cost for the entire energy
system. The fast worsening of climate change may lead to
international attention to Turkmenistan’s inadequate actions
regarding GHG emissions sooner or later, and this might
enforce drastic measures on Turkmenistan’s energy policy.
Decision-makers in Turkmenistan should strongly consider
enabling investments in RE through solid frameworks and
legislation, as this enhances the welfare of the country.
SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS
Supplementary Material available under the tab “Media”.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors sincere gratitude goes to Peter Jones and
Upeksha Caldera for proofreading and Ville Ojanen for
valuable feedback.
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driven net zero emission electricity supply with
negligible carbon cost: Israel as a case study for Sun
Belt countries,” Energy, vol. 155, pp. 87104, 2018,
doi: 10.1016/j.energy.2018.05.014.
[61] A. Sadiqa, A. Gulagi, and C. Breyer, “Energy
transition roadmap towards 100% renewable energy
and role of storage technologies for Pakistan by
2050,” Energy, vol. 147, pp. 518533, 2018, doi:
10.1016/j.energy.2018.01.027.
[62] A. Gulagi, M. Ram, A. A. Solomon, M. Khan, and C.
Breyer, “Current energy policies and possible
transition scenarios adopting renewable energy: A
case study for Bangladesh,” Renew. Energy, vol. 155,
pp. 899920, 2020, doi:
10.1016/j.renene.2020.03.119.
[63] A. Azzuni, A. Aghahosseini, M. Ram, D. Bogdanov,
U. Caldera, and C. Breyer, “Energy Security
Analysis for a 100% Renewable Energy Transition in
Jordan by 2050,” Sustainability, vol. 12, no. 12, p.
4921, 2020, doi: 10.3390/su12124921.
[64] J. Rogelj, M. Den Elzen, N. Höhne, T. Fransen, H.
Fekete, H. Winkler, R. Schaeffer, F. Sha, K. Riahi,
and M. Meinshausen, “Paris Agreement climate
proposals need a boost to keep warming well below
2 °C,” Nature, vol. 534, pp. 631639, 2016, doi:
10.1038/nature18307.
[65] J. Rogelj, P. M. Forster, E. Kriegler, C. J. Smith, and
R. Séférian, “Estimating and tracking the remaining
carbon budget for stringent climate targets,” Nature,
vol. 571, no. 7765, pp. 335342, 2019, doi:
10.1038/s41586-019-1368-z.
[66] C. Breyer, M. Fasihi, C. Bajamundi, and F. Creutzig,
“Direct Air Capture of CO2: A Key Technology for
Ambitious Climate Change Mitigation,” Joule, vol.
3, no. 9, pp. 20532057, 2019, doi:
10.1016/j.joule.2019.08.010.
[67] U. Caldera and C. Breyer, “Strengthening the global
water supply through a decarbonised global
desalination sector and improved irrigation systems,”
Energy, vol. 200, p. 117507, 2020, doi:
10.1016/j.energy.2020.117507.
[68] A. Aghahosseini, D. Bogdanov, and C. Breyer,
“Towards sustainable development in the MENA
region: Analysing the feasibility of a 100%
renewable electricity system in 2030,” Energy
Strateg. Rev., vol. 28, p. 100466, 2020, doi:
10.1016/j.esr.2020.100466.
RASUL SATYMOV was born in
Turkmenistan in 1995. He received his
Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial
Engineering from Istanbul Sehir University,
Istanbul, Turkey in 2018 and Master of
Science in Industrial Engineering and
Management from Lappeenranta-Lahti
University of Technology LUT in 2020.
Rasul joined Professor Christian Breyer’s
(PhD) Solar Economy team at LUT
University in February 2020 as a Junior
Research Assistant. His first project as part of
the team was studying the possible pathways
for energy transition in Turkmenistan to 100% renewables-based system.
Simultaneously, he started a project on global wind power modelling in order
to build a global data on optimal wind turbine hub heights. In addition, Rasul
is generally responsible for data visualisation in the Solar Economy team.
DMITRII BOGDANOV is currently a
doctoral student at LUT University in
Finland and a researcher in the Solar
Economy laboratory. His field of research
includes renewable energy, energy systems
modelling and integration of high shares of
renewable energy generation into energy
systems. He is responsible for the
development of the LUT Energy System
Transition Model and its application’s on
global level and for regions in Europe,
Eurasia and Northeast Asia.
Mr. Bogdanov authored and co-authored more than 45 scientific publications
in leading scientific journals. He is holding the B.S. and M.S. degrees in
automation and control engineering from the Saint-Petersburg
Electrotechnical University, and the M.S. degree in industrial electronics
from Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland. His main areas of
interest are energy systems modelling, renewable energy, smart grids and
energy system transformation.
CHRISTIAN BREYER received
diplomas in general business, physics and
energy system engineering. Dr. Breyer
received his PhD in the field of the
economics of hybrid PV power plants. He
has started the Solar Economy professorship
at LUT University in March 2014. His major
expertise is the integrated research of
technological and economic characteristics
of renewable energy systems specialising in
hybrid energy solutions, energy system
modelling and 100% renewable energy
scenarios on a local but also global scale.
Dr. Breyer has been managing director of
the Reiner Lemoine Institute, Berlin, focused on research about renewable
energy supply up to 100% and worked previously several years for Q-Cells
a former world market leader in the PV industry in the R&D and market
development department. He is member of international working groups like
ETIP PV, IEA-PVPS Task 1, chairman for renewable energy at the Energy
Watch Group, and advisory board member of Global Alliance Powerfuels
and CO2 Value Europe and founding member of the DESERTEC
Foundation. He authored and co-authored about 270 scientific publications,
thereof more than 100 in journals.
... Cost and physical data for the steel production technologies were collected according to BZE (2018), Fischedick et al. (2014), and Otto et al. (2017). Electrolyser cost assumptions and efficiency as well cost assumptions and efficiencies for salt cavern and lined rock H2 storage follow the values reported in Aghahosseini and Breyer (2018) and Fasihi et al. (2021) with an assumed global average of 35.5% salt cavern storage and 64.5% lined rock storage and an energy-topower ratio of 200, and respective costs can be found in Appendix A. Additionally, LCOCS was determined for global LCOE and GHG emissions pricing as framed in Bogdanov et al. (2021b) and adjusted to the latest full sector coupling and financial assumptions in Satymov et al. (2021), also given in Appendix A. Biochar coal costs are estimated with an average exporter and importer price (Global Trade Magazine, 2020) with some transport cost. Definitions of the variables in Equations 3.1-3.3 ...
... If the Capex of EWIN continues to see a noticeable decrease, EWIN will be by far the cheapest route for primary steelmaking, as shown in Table 12, assuming low-cost renewable electricity. (Bogdanov et al., 2021b;Satymov et al., 2021) and GHG emissions costs of 75 €/t CO2 . ...
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Steel production is a carbon and energy intensive activity, releasing 1.9 tons of CO2 and requiring 5.17 MWh of primary energy per ton produced, on average, globally, resulting in 9% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions. To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement of limiting global temperature increase to below 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels, the structure of the global steel production must change fundamentally. There are several technological paths towards a lower carbon intensity for steelmaking, which bring with them a paradigm shift decoupling CO2 emissions from crude steel production by transitioning from traditional methods of steel production using fossil coal and fossil methane to those based on low-cost renewable electricity and green hydrogen. However, the energy system consequences of fully defossilised steelmaking has not yet been examined in detail. This research examines the energy system requirements a global defossilised power-to-steel industry using a GDP-based demand model for global steel demands, which projects a growth in steel demand from 1.6 Gt in 2020 to 2.4 Gt in 2100. Three scenarios are developed to investigate the emissions trajectory, energy demands, and economics of a high penetration of direct hydrogen reduction and electrowinning in global steel production. Results indicate that the global steel industry will see green hydrogen demands grow significantly, ranging from 2809 to 4371 TWhH2 by 2050. Under the studied conditions, global steel production is projected to see reductions in final thermal energy demand of between 38.3% and 57.7% and increases in total electricity demand by factors between 15.1 and 13.3 by 2050, depending on the scenario. Furthermore, CO2 emissions from steelmaking can be reduced to zero.
... Therefore, the key energy generation technology forming the bulk of the transition in the BPS is solar PV which is representative of sunbelt countries sharing similar climatic conditions to that of Cameroon as shown in similar studies for Africa [5]- [8], [87]. Several related studies for countries belonging to the Global South point to the dominance of solar PV as a driving generating technology for achieving a 100% RE-based energy system both on national and regional regimes, as for the Americas [88]- [91], Middle East [92]- [94], Central Asia [73], [95], and South and Southeast Asia. ...
... Further, batteries, heat pumps and technologies in the value chain for renewable electricity based synthetic fuel production, such as electrolysers enhance flexibility and integration of the energy system. The battery-to-PtG phenomenon [7], [9], [41], [95], [100] is observed in energy systems with very a high share of RE, such as the BPS, as a means of reducing overall system cost. Battery can be used to charge the gas storage via utilisation of electrolysers during off-peak hours, mainly at night and early morning hours. ...
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Sustainable energy systems form an indispensable component of sustainable development especially in developing economies. Understanding the system wide techno-economics of sustainable energy systems therefore becomes critical in shaping the energy system mix within a region or country. This paper explores progressive and optimal pathways towards a fully sustainable energy system for Cameroon by 2050 in power, heat, and transport sectors as a representative case study for the Central Africa region. Six key scenarios are modelled with the LUT Energy System Transition Model to capture key policy and sustainability constraints. Results from the study show that, the optimal least cost technology combination for a fully sustainable energy system for Cameroon with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 is dominated by solar PV (86%), complemented by hydropower (8%) and bioenergy (5%). These results show that a fully sustainable energy system for Cameroon is feasible from both the technical and economic perspectives, if policy commitment is oriented towards these low-cost energy solutions. The results of this research provide a reliable reference for planning transitions towards a 100% renewable energy-based energy system in countries within the Central Africa region.
... The results indicate that the share of renewable energies can increase from 12.5% in 2018 to 30% in 2050. Satymov et al. (2021) investigated the transition to a sustainable energy system in Turkmenistan with different transition scenarios. The results show that the share of solar and wind power will respectively reach 76% and 8.5% in the best policy scenario by 2050. ...
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One criteria for the success in achieving sustainable development is to supply electricity by considering the diversity of generation technology. Also, the consumption of fossil fuels is considered as a major challenge for sustainable development. Relying heavily on fossil resources for electricity generation and the growing trend in emissions is one of the serious problems of developing countries. In this research, the sustainable growth of Iran's electricity industry in the short and long term time horizons is investigated using three game theory models in a system dynamic model. The competition, cooperation and profits of electricity suppliers as well as the government's role are modeled. Carbon dioxide emissions, water and natural gas consumption are also calculated. The results show the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, water and gas consumption in the Stackelberg and cooperation model decrease by 19.3%, 18.4% and 16.5%, respectively, compared to the continuation of the current trend.
... Nevertheless, some issues have been addressed in the scientific publications − for example, the studies of A.M. Penjiyev, in particular, his dissertation "Scientific justification of energy technologies use based on renewable energy sources in Turkmenistan" are of interest [2]. R. Satymov studied Turkmenistan's transition to a sustainable energy system [6], pointing out that Turkmenistan is a country completely dependent on fossil fuels, and that the development of a renewable energy system will be more profitable for the country than permanent dependence on fossil fuels. ...
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The relevance of the study is based, on the one hand, on the persisting importance and demand for minerals as energy carriers in the context of the global economy, and, on the other hand, on the recognition of the current economic processes taking place in the region of interest ( for this study, Central Asia) when building a strategy for the reintegration of the post-Soviet space. The purpose of the investigation is to characterise Turkmenistan’s current energy trade policy to anticipate further steps in building a system of strategic cooperation with its immediate neighbours as well as other political actors. The study uses general scientific methods and a range of special methods, such as deduction and induction methods, content analysis, event analysis, systematic approach and historical analysis. The study first outlines major developments in international politics (with a focus on past and current economic processes, specifically in trade and energy production) in the region as a whole and Turkmenistan in particular, and second, it proposes a scenario for the state’s likely development in the region of interest, based on historical assumptions and available data. The information set out in this study can be used to adjust actions in building a long-term relationship with Turkmenistan, and to assess and understand the motivations behind the actions of Turkmenistan’s officials
... Electrical energy is the core of the IES, which can realize the mutual conversion of electricity, heat, cold, and other sources of energy, as well as the flexible distribution of multiple types of consumption and the optimized coordination of multiple market entities. It can also effectively improve the energy utilization efficiency and play an important role in sustainable energy systems [3,4]. ...
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A regional integrated energy system (RIES) is an electricity-centric multi-energy system that can realize the mutual conversion of electricity, heat, cold, and other energy. Through multi-flexible resource interaction and the transaction of multi-investment entities, the efficiency of energy utilization can be improved. To systematize energy-consuming entities and scale photovoltaic-based renewable energy in a distribution network, the energy-consuming behavior, energy-producing schedule, and trading strategy can be coupled. Considering the interaction between the energy-consuming behavior and the uncertainty of distributed photovoltaic output, an optimal operation method for RIES is proposed on the basis of social network theory and an uncertain evolutionary game method in this paper. From the perspective of the operator, the overall profits of RIES are maximized considering the entity characteristics of both the demand and the supply side. A case study shows that the proposed method can ensure the reasonable distribution of profit among the investment entities. A closer social relationship between energy-consuming entities or a lower transaction risk cost of energy-producing entities can increase the overall energy transaction profit.
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Concerns related to climate change and global warming caused by anthropogenic activities and in particular fossil energy use have been increasing lately. Air pollution and volatile conventional fuel prices emphasize the need to transition the energy system towards very high shares of renewables. 100% renewable energy systems have been analyzed by many researchers starting from 1975. This bibliometric analysis reviews more than 600 scientific articles in which 100% renewable energy systems were surveyed. This study uses tools of bibliometric analysis, based on publication databases and data mining, together with review elements to understand the current status and trend of 100% renewable energy systems research. The focus of results is on quantitative parameters relating to number and publication types, collaborative links among authors, institutions, and countries. Collaborative networks provide the significant concentration of published papers within organizations and co-authorships globally. The results reveal that the dominant organizations and thus number of published papers are from Europe and the USA; however, almost all the established research organizations in the field of energy system analysis are not active in the field of 100% renewable energy systems analyses. The journals Energy and Applied Energy have the most articles, and accordingly the most citations. EnergyPLAN and LUT Energy System Transition Model have been the most active tools used to analyze 100% renewable energy systems according to numbers of articles and received citations. The topic of modeling approach indicates the term ’Energy System’ has the highest frequency due to its emergence in the articles. This research provides a holistic overview on the more than four decades of research, and it reveals dynamics within the field with a compound annual growth rate of articles of 26% for the 2010s, the trend of publications, and author growth that comprises now almost 1400 authors with articles in the field.
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Europe and North America have numerous studies on 100% renewable power systems. South America, however, lacks research on zero-carbon energy systems, especially understanding South America as an interconnected region, despite its great renewable energy sources, increasing population, and economic productivity. This work extends the cost-optimization energy planning model LEELO and applies it to South America. This results in the to-date most complete model for planning South America’s power sector, with a high temporal (8760 time steps per year) and spatial (over 40 nodes) resolution, and 30 technologies involved. Besides the base case, we study how varying spatial resolution for South America impacted investment results (43, 30, 16, 1 node). Finally, we also evaluate green hydrogen export scenarios, from 0% to 20% on top of the electricity demand. Our study reveals that South America’s energy transition will rely, in decreasing order, on solar photovoltaic, wind, gas as bridging technology, and also on some concentrated solar power. Storage technologies equal to about 10% of the total installed power capacity would be required, aided by the existing hydropower fleet. Not only is the transition to renewables technically possible, but it is also the most cost-efficient solution: electricity costs are expected to reach 32 €/MWh from the year 2035 onwards without the need for further fossil fuels. Varying the spatial resolution, the most-resolved model (43 nodes) reveals 11% and 6% more costs than the one-node and one-node-per-country (16) models, respectively, with large differences in investment recommendations, especially in concentrated solar and wind power. The difference between 43 and 30 nodes is negligible in terms of total costs, energy storage, and technology mix, indicating that 30 nodes are an adequate resolution for this region. We then use the 30-node model to analyze hydrogen export scenarios. The electricity costs drop, as hydrogen is not only a load but also a flexibility provider. Most green hydrogen is produced in Chile, Argentina, and northeast Brazil. For future work, we propose to do an integrated energy plan, including transport and heat, for the region, as well as modeling local hydrogen demands. This work aims to inform policymakers of sustainable transitions, and the energy community.
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World leaders and scientists have been putting immense efforts to strengthen energy security and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by meeting growing energy demand for the last couple of decades. Their efforts accelerate the need for large-scale renewable energy resources (RER) integration into existing electricity grids. The intermittent nature of the dominant RER, e.g., solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind systems, poses operational and technical challenges in their effective integration by hampering network reliability and stability. This article reviews and discusses the challenges reported due to the grid integration of solar PV systems and relevant proposed solutions. Among various technical challenges, it reviews the non-dispatch-ability, power quality, angular and voltage stability, reactive power support, and fault ride-through capability related to solar PV systems grid integration. Also, it addresses relevant socio-economic, environmental, and electricity market challenges. Finally, it highlights the proposed solution methodologies, including grid codes, advanced control strategies, energy storage systems, and renewable energy policies to combat the discussed challenges. The findings of this article assist the power system scholars and researchers in conducting further research in this field. Furthermore, it helps the decision-makers to choose the appropriate technologies to deal with the anticipated challenges associated with the grid integration of PV systems.
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To decarbonize the economy, many governments have set targets for the use of renewable energy sources. These are often formulated as relative shares of electricity demand or supply. Implementing respective constraints in energy models is a surprisingly delicate issue. They may cause a modeling artifact of excessive electricity storage use. We introduce this phenomenon as “unintended storage cycling”, which can be detected in case of simultaneous storage charging and discharging. In this paper, we provide an analytical representation of different approaches for implementing minimum renewable share constraints in energy models, and show how these may lead to unintended storage cycling. Using a parsimonious optimization model, we quantify related distortions of optimal dispatch and investment decisions as well as market prices, and identify important drivers of the phenomenon. Finally, we provide recommendations on how to avoid the distorting effects of unintended storage cycling in energy modeling.
Thesis
(In English Below) Obtener un sistema energético que contribuya a asegurar la estabilidad climática del planeta es uno de los desafíos más importantes de la primera mitad del siglo XXI. Con el propósito de contribuir en la búsqueda de vías que permitan superar la crisis climática global, pero desde acciones locales, y apelando a que la tecnología fotovoltaica (FV) cuenta con excelentes características para habilitar la transición energética que se necesita, esta tesis doctoral tiene como principal objetivo analizar, desde un enfoque global y local, el rol que la energía solar FV descentralizada podría jugar en la transición energética sostenible de un país y territorio específico. Para esto, se emplea como caso de estudio a Chile y particularmente, una de las regiones que lo conforma: la región de Aysén. Tanto Chile como la región de Aysén tienen aspectos que son un reflejo de la crisis global del Antropoceno, pero también cuentan con una gran oportunidad para implementar soluciones ejemplares basadas en sus enormes potenciales de energía renovable (ER). Para realizar dicho análisis se han considerado todos los sectores consumidores de energía y se utilizó una herramienta desarrollada por la Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), con la que se modelaron escenarios de transición energética hacia un sistema 100 % basado en ER para Chile, desde un enfoque global y local, donde, en el enfoque local se incluyó a la región de Aysén. Los resultados revelan que, tanto en Chile como en la región de Aysén, lograr un sistema energético 100% renovable para el año 2050 es técnicamente factible y económicamente viable. En ese año, dependiendo del enfoque y escala territorial, la contribución a la generación eléctrica por parte de la tecnología FV en su conjunto varía entre 39–86 % y, la contribución de la FV descentralizada varía entre 9–12 %; no obstante, la FV descentralizada aporta entre un 27–52 % de la electricidad final que es mayormente consumida en las ciudades por los sectores eléctrico, térmico y transporte. A su vez, la energía solar FV descentralizada crearía en Chile entre el 9–15 % de los empleos anuales directos durante el periodo de transición. Es decir, entre los años 2020 y 2050, el sector de la FV descentralizada crearía 174.274 empleos directos. Además, los resultados también revelan que Chile puede alcanzar la neutralidad en emisiones de carbono en el año 2030 y, se puede convertir en un país emisor negativo de gases de efecto invernadero a partir del año 2035. Todo esto sería posible utilizando menos del 10 % del potencial tecno-económico de ER disponible en este país. Tras los resultados del trabajo de investigación realizado en esta tesis doctoral, se concluye que la energía solar FV es un elemento vital en la transición energética sostenible, así como también, alcanzar un sistema energético totalmente desfosilizado es más importante que lograr la neutralidad en las emisiones de carbono. Esto último se debe a que una transición a nivel país hacia un sistema energético 100 % renovable implicaría beneficios socio-ambientales y socioeconómicos locales, con impactos globales positivos que se necesitan con urgencia. Si Chile implementara una vía de transición hacia un sistema energético 100 % renovable, no solo podría convertirse en un caso ejemplar en el avance hacia una economía post-combustibles fósiles, si no que también podría contribuir a la transición energética global: a través de la extracción limpia de materias primas clave (como lo son el cobre y el litio), y a través de la producción de combustibles y químicos basados en ER. En resumen, la tecnología FV puede contribuir en la mitigación del cambio climático y la reducción de los niveles de contaminación del aire en las ciudades, al tiempo que impulsa el crecimiento económico local; todo esto, de una manera más descentralizada y participativa. ///////////////////////////////////////// Obtaining an energy system that will help to ensure the climactic stability of the planet is one of the most important challenges of the first half of the 21st century. In order to contribute to the search for ways to overcome the global climate crisis, from local activities, and appealing to the fact that photovoltaic (PV) technology has excellent characteristics which could enable the energy transition that is needed, this doctoral thesis has as its main objective the analysis, from a global and local approach, the role that decentralized solar PV could play in the sustainable energy transition of a specific country and territory. For this purpose, Chile and one of its regions (the Aysén region) are used as a case study. Both Chile and the Aysén region have aspects that reflect the global crisis of the Anthropocene, but they also present a great opportunity to implement exemplary solutions, based on their enormous renewable energy (RE) potentials. To carry out this analysis, all energy-consuming sectors were considered. A tool developed by the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) was used, with which energy transition scenarios were modelled towards a 100% RE-based system for Chile, from a global and local approach. The Aysén region was included in the local approach. The results reveal that, both in Chile and in the Aysén region, achieving a 100% RE system by 2050 is technically feasible and economically viable. In that year, depending on the approach and territorial scale, the contribution to electricity generation by PV technology as a whole would vary between 39–86%. The contribution of decentralized PV would be between 9–12%. However, decentralized PV would contribute 27–52% of the final electricity that is mostly consumed in cities by the power, heat and transport sectors. In turn, decentralized solar PV would create between 9–15% of annual direct jobs in Chile during the transition period. In other words, between 2020 and 2050, the decentralized PV sector would create 174,274 direct jobs. In addition, the results also reveal that Chile could achieve carbon neutrality in 2030 and could become a negative greenhouse gas emitter by 2035. All of this would be possible by using less than 10% of the techno-economic potential of RE available in this country. From the results of the research work carried out in this doctoral thesis, it is concluded that solar PV is a vital element in the sustainable energy transition. We also find that achieving a fully defossilized energy system is more important than achieving carbon neutrality. The latter is due to the fact that a transition at the country level towards a 100% RE system would imply local socio-environmental and socio-economic benefits, with positive urgently needed global impacts. If Chile implements a transition path towards a 100% RE system, it could not only become an exemplary case in moving towards a post-fossil fuel economy, but could also contribute to the global energy transition through the clean extraction of key raw materials (such as copper and lithium), and through the production of RE-based fuels and chemicals. In summary, PV technology can contribute to mitigating climate change and reducing air pollution levels in cities, while boosting local economic growth, doing all of this in a more decentralized and participatory way.
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Sub-Saharan Africa is a region with a large population living without electricity. This study investigates the grid balancing role of bioenergy in a sub-Saharan Africa’s fully renewable power sector to address the energy poverty challenge in the region, using Ghana as a case country. Two methods are employed: the bioenergy estimation method, for deriving Ghana’s technical bioenergy potential, and the LUT model, for the power sector transition modelling. The Ghanaian bioenergy potential of 48.3 TWh is applied on the power sector using the LUT model to develop six alternative scenarios, emphasising on the role of bioenergy, greenhouse gas emissions costs, and climate change mitigation policies. The results of the Best Policy Scenario reveal that with an electrical efficiency of 37.2%, 18 TWh of electricity, which is 16.9% of Ghana’s electricity demand by 2050, could be produced from bioenergy for grid balancing. Also, the levelised cost of electricity declines from 48.7 €/MW in 2015 to 36.9 – 46.6 €/MWh in 2050. Whereas the cost of electricity increases to 76.4 €/MWh in the Current Policy Scenario without greenhouse gas emissions costs. The results show the viability of a relatively cheap and bioenergy balanced sustainable renewable power system for the sub-Saharan African region.
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Under the Paris Climate Agreement, sustainable energy supply will largely be achieved through renewable energies. Each country will have its own unique optimal pathway to transition to a fully sustainable system. This study demonstrates two such pathways for Bolivia that are both technically feasible and cost-competitive to a scenario without proper renewable energy targets, and significantly more cost-efficient than the current system. This transition for Bolivia would be driven by solar PV based electricity and high electrification across all energy sectors. Simulations performed using the LUT Energy System Transition model comprising 108 technology components show that electricity demand in Bolivia would rise from the present 12 TWh to 230 TWh in 2050, and electricity would comprise 82% of primary energy demand. The remaining 18% would then be covered by renewable heat and sustainable biomass resources. Solar PV sees massive increases in capacity from 0.13 GW in 2020 to a maximum of 113 GW in 2050, corresponding to 93% of electricity generation in 2050. In a high transmission scenario, levelised cost of energy reduces 27% during the transition. All scenarios studied see significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with two scenarios demonstrating a Bolivian energy system with no greenhouse gas emissions in 2050. Further, such scenarios outline a sustainable and import-free supply of energy for Bolivia that will provide additional social benefits for the people of Bolivia.
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Transition towards long-term sustainable energy systems is one of the biggest challenges faced by the global society. By 2050, not only greenhouse gas emissions have to be eliminated in all energy sectors: power, heat, transport and industry but also these sectors should be closely coupled allowing maximum synergy effects and efficiency. A tool allowing modelling of complex energy system transition for power, heat, transport and industry sectors, responsible for over 75% of the CO2eq emissions, in full hourly resolution, is presented in this research and tested for the case of Kazakhstan. The results show that transition towards a 100% sustainable and renewable energy based system by 2050 is possible even for the case of severe climate conditions and an energy intensive industry, observed in Kazakhstan. The power sector becomes backbone of the entire energy system, due to more intense electrification induced sector coupling. The results show that electrification and integration of sectors enables additional flexibility, leading to more efficient systems and lower energy supply cost, even though integration effect varies from sector to sector. The levelised cost of electricity can be reduced from 62 €/MWh in 2015 to 46 €/MWh in 2050 in a fully integrated system, while the cost of heat stays on a comparable level within the range of 30–35 €/MWh, leading to an energy system cost on a level of 40–45 €/MWh. Transition towards 100% renewable energy supply shrinks CO2eq emissions from these sectors to zero in 2050 with 90% of the reduction achieved by 2040.
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A cost-optimised transition pathway towards 100 % renewable energy was simulated for Finland. This transition was consistent with EU and international targets to achieve sstainability, while maintaining national competitiveness. Finland was divided into 7 regions that account for resource distribution and demand differences at high spatial and hourly time resolutions. Results indicate that levelised cost of electricity can decrease from 61 €/MWh in 2015 to 53 €/MWh in 2050 and that levelised cost of heat can decrease from 29 €/MWh to 20 €/MWh based on the assumptions used in this study. Transport sector costs decrease for most vehicle classes through electrification but increase marginally for classes that use bioenergy-based or sustainable synthetic fuels. Costs decrease through the adoption of flexible generation by several renewable energy technologies, intra-regional interconnections, and the use of low-cost energy storage solutions. Results show less need for combined heat and power plants as the electrification increases through sector integration. Individuals and groups can become prosumers of energy, motivated by a desire to contribute to climate action and making choices for lower cost, sustainable energy. Collectively, society can increase a sense of agency through lower exposure to risks. A 100 % renewable energy system can be a resilient, low cost and low risk option for the future.
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