Multi-scale Energy Systems Modelling Encompassing Renewable, Intermittent, Stored Energy and Carbon Capture and Storage (MESMERISE)

Principal InvestigatorDr Iain Staffell (Centre for Environmental Policy)

Researchers: Professor Richard Green, Dr Kate Ward

Funder: EPSRC

Duration: October 2014 – October 2018

For carbon capture and storage (CCS) to move out of the lab and into the power grid they need to fit into a future electricity system which will be radically different from today’s. But the UK needs CCS to minimise the cost of decarbonising our economy and it will need to fit into an electricity market that is increasingly dominated by nuclear power which is inflexible and wind power which is uncontrollable. So the development of CCS plants should ensure they are sufficiently flexible to interact with this new system, and balance the rapid start and cycling abilities with the lowest possible capital and operating costs. Rather than burning fuel purely in response to electricity price, CCS operators will also have to factor in waste storage costs, which will suffer similar constraints on CO2 transport and injection rates and gas composition.

This project will identify the flexibility bottlenecks in the CCS chain and develop models of promising options for the development of resilient CCS systems that internally calculate CCS plant load factors and electricity wholesale prices, for whole systems analysis as well as potential technological improvements in critical areas. Using out results, we will be able to explicitly quantify the interactions between the above- and below-ground links in the CCS chain while assessing sample CCS chains to examine their broader role in the UK energy system.

Our research approach and the development of new mathematical models will enable us to provide the most accurate assessment to date of how CCS will fit into the UK energy system and how it will interact with other energy players. By linking CCS and renewable energy generation system models we will understand more about the opportunities and impacts associated with their co-deployment in the UK. This will feed into a wider policy analysis that will examine the dynamics of changing system infrastructure at intermediate time periods up to 2050.

Key Research Questions:

  • What are the interactions between intermittent renewables and CCS and how might this affect the design and operation of CCS technology? To do this, we will combine cutting-edge, detailed engineering models of fossil plant with CCS and UK-specific wind resource availability
  • What impacts will injection and storage impose on the power generation aspect of CCS twhen operating outside of steady state?
  • Can we discriminate between the flexibility of a CCS chain where each link is optimised in isolation and system where the whole CCS chain has been optimised a priori?
  • What are the investment risks associated with the deployment of different amounts of intermittent renewable generation into the UK’s electricity grid