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Potential-risk and No-regret Options for Urban Energy System Design - A Sensitivity Analysis


This study identifies supply options for sustainable urban energy systems, which are robust to external system changes. A multi-criteria optimization model is used to minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and financial costs of a reference system. Sensitivity analyses examine the impact of changing boundary conditions related to GHG emissions, energy prices, energy demands, and population density. Options that align with both financial and emission reduction and are robust to system changes are called “no-regret” options. Options sensitive to system changes are labeled as “potential-risk” options.
There is a conflict between minimizing GHG emissions and financial costs. In the reference case, the emission-optimized scenario enables a reduction of GHG emissions (-93%), but involves higher costs (+160%) compared to the financially-optimized scenario.
No-regret options include photovoltaic systems, decentralized heat pumps, thermal storages, electricity exchange between sub-systems and with higher-level systems, and reducing energy demands through building insulation, behavioral changes, or the decrease of living space per inhabitant. Potential-risk options include solar thermal systems, natural gas technologies, high-capacity battery storages, and hydrogen for buildiing energy supply.
When energy prices rise, financially-optimized systems approach the least-emission system design. The maximum profitability of natural gas technologies was already reached before the 2022 European energy crisis.

Funding source: The following authors received grants from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF): Christian Klemm with a grant from the ‘‘Stiftung der deutschen Wirtschaft’’ (no grant number) and Frauke Wiese with the junior research group energy sufficiency as part of its social-ecological research funding priority (grant number 01UU2004A).
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Germany

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