Energy supply modelling of a low-CO 2 emitting energy system: Case study of a Danish municipality

Dadi Þorsteinn Sveinbjörnsson, Sara Ben Amer-Allam, Anders Bavnhøj Hansen, Loui Algren, Allan Schrøder Pedersen

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Municipal activities play an important role in national and global CO2-emission reduction efforts, with Nordic countries at the forefront thanks to their energy planning tradition and high penetration of renewable energy sources. In this work, we present a case study of the Danish municipality of Sønderborg, whose aim is to reach zero net CO2 emissions by 2029. Sønderborg has an official strategic plan towards 2029, which we compared with four alternative scenarios to investigate how the municipality could approach its target in the most energy-efficient and cost-effective way while simultaneously keeping biomass and waste consumption close to the limits of the locally available residual resources.We modelled all sectors of the energy system on the municipal scale, applying a broad range of energy conversion technologies, including advanced biomass conversion technologies and reversible electrolysis. We constructed five scenarios, each representing a different energy mix for Sønderborg’s energy system in 2029. We modelled these scenarios using the mixed-integer linear optimization tool Sifre. We compared the results for the five scenarios using four indicators: annual total system cost, total energy system efficiency, annual net system CO2 emissions and total annual biomass consumption.The results show that scenarios with a high degree of electrification perform better on the selected indicators than scenarios with a high degree of biomass utilization. Moreover, the incorporation of advanced conversion technologies such as electrolysis, fuel cells and methanol production further reduces both the total system cost and net CO2 of the highly electrified energy system. Our sensitivity analysis demonstrates that scenarios with a low biomass consumption and a high degree of electrification are less dependent on changes in energy prices.We conclude that in order to achieve their CO2 emission goals in the most energy-efficient, cost-effective and sustainable way, municipalities similar to Sønderborg should compare a wide range of energy system configurations, for example, scenarios with a high degree of electrification and a limited biomass use.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Energy
Pages (from-to)922-941
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Energy system modelling
  • Urban energy scenarios
  • Renewable energy
  • Mixed-integer linear optimization
  • Energy conversion
  • Electrolysis


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