the coming 50 years, it is crucial that the world's energy
become environmentally benign and sufficient to meet everybody's
energy needs. We
currently have more efficient energy technologies than ever before,
with an ability to supply 100% of our energy needs from renewable
The purpose of INFORSE's work on sustainable
energy plans and visions is to show
how we can
worldwide into a sustainable one. Changing the world's energy
sytems requires improving the efficiency and sustainability of regional
and local supplies.
Tools for Sustainable Energy
is the cheapest way to increase sources of renewable electricity?
do we convince utilities that renewable energies are the future?
do we ensure that a planning model does not cheat
that work for a renewable and sustainable energy strategy face questions
like these whenever involved in discussions
of the future of grid-based
provides tools for NGOs involved in sustainable
It includes an INFORSE-Europe report on how to assess renewable energy
potentials and economical parameters in Europe, a report on current
of grid-connected renewable energy, and links to other resources
on sustainable energy planning. It also includes a section on planning
for municipalities' sustainable energy planning.
It is common experience
that electric utilities are making their plans according to their traditional
experience, and do not give a fair treatment to renewable energy, energy
efficiency, and other local solutions. They often do this with arguments
based on results from large computer models of their electricity network
and supply. Models that are not publicly available, and with no access
for independent reviewers, nor NGOs to check the data.
have found it necessary to work out their own, alternative plans
and models for the
energy system, in particular for the electric grid. And a number of tools
exist with which NGOs and independent researchers can make their
models and scenarios. Such tools and models have been crucial in the
campaigns for sustainable energy at several occasions, e.g.:
Danish model developed by three university groups was already
used to make
a detailed alternative energy plan for Denmark, a plan that
was supported by many Danish NGOs, and that in many ways
inspired the official
Danish sustainable energy plan "Energy 2000" launched in
1990. The model was further developed into the SESAM model
by regional planners in two Danish counties as well as in Czech
Republic, Poland and Germany.
Californian part of the Environmental Defense Fund developed
the Elfin model
during the 80s for its debates with utilities and public
utility regulators, a model that is now used by the Californian
Gas & Electricity and other large utilities as well
as by NGOs in several countries
models (e.g. SESAM) has a detailed modeling of cogeneration
and heat supply, while
others (e.g. Elfin) primarily gives a detailed model of the
electricity supply system.
Energy Potentials (new update: December
An overview of the
potentials for renewable energy in the area is needed to make any plan
for substantial expnasion of renewable energy use. In 1997, INFORSE-Europe
developed the "Guideline
for Estimation of Renewable Energy Potentials, Barriers, and Effects". (233
kB pdf file) The
guideline was updated in 2006 with a chapter on liquid biofuels for transportation
and updated biomass prices. The guideline
also includes for each technology: barriers, employment, environmentalk
issues, and simplified economy.
Municipal Sustainable Energy Plans
Several municipalities have shown that it
is possible to reduce dependence of fossil and nuclear energy and improve
environment by action on municipal level. They have made substantial emission
reductions, and they have shown an example for many others. If more municipalities
and other local authorities would take lead in this, global goal for emission
reductions would be easier to achieve. Municipalities can influence energy
use in a number of ways:
- Reduce and change energy use in own buildings
- Reduce and change energy use by own vehicles
- The responsibility for roads
and locals transport can be used to promote the most environmentally
benign forms of
- The municipality can take initiatives
to energy efficiency and renewable energy based energy supply,
such as cogeneration
and district heating based on biomass, wind turbines etc.
- Some municipalities have decided to transform the
energy supply to be based 100% on renewable energy
The most successful initiatives
have included municipal or other local sustainable energy plans that
can be made with the tools
described in the sections below.
Many organisations and municipalities have material
available on the internet, describing their local sustainable energy initiatives.
The International Council for Local Environmental
is organising local authorities that want to improve the environment.
In their Local Agenda 21 and European Cities for Climate Protection campaign's
they organise and assist local authorities.
Alliance of European Cities with Indigenous Rainforest People is
organising European cities and and assisting the in reducing greenhouse
and in other ways become more sustainable energy.
is organising cities to promote sustainable energy policy through local
The Swedish city Växjö
has adopted a plan for a fossil fuel free town, and is successfully
implementing the plan.
The Danish islands Samsø
and Aeroe have adopted plans to be supplied fully from renewable energy,
and are also advancing in the implementation of the plans. On Aeroe
plans include the worlds largest solar
An overview of the
potentials for renewable energy in the area is needed. In 1997, INFORSE-Europe
developed a wind atlas and the "Guideline
for Estimation of Renewable Energy Potentials, Barriers, and Effects". (105
kB word file)
A description of
each of the potential technologies is needed, including e.g. efficiency,
investment costs, running costs, lifetime, expected future improvements
and cost reductions. Usually the technologies can be divided into renewable
energy technologies, fossil
fuel and nuclear technologies, electricity
conservation measures and energy
example of a renewable energy technology catalogue developed through
the FAIRE project can be seen here: "The
Benefits of Renewable Energy Resources" (254
kB word file).
The existing supply
(power plants, import options etc.) should be described in similar ways
as the new technologies.
The present and expected
future energy/electricity demand is needed: total energy, peak power,
load curve(s), expected future development including expected increase
of end-use efficiency
Parameters and Requirements
A number of additional
information is needed to describe the system, e.g. network losses and
limitations of the grid. Also the requirement for stability must be defined:
what is the acceptable probability that the system cannot meet demand
and what is the penalty to pay for energy demand that is not served by
the system? Because of the uncertainty of all supply systems these parameters
are not negligable, and renewable energy based systems can give exactly
the same standard of supply as other systems.
While the benefit
of independent energy plans can be high, their development is demanding.
It requires data and time. The development of a model and some sustainable
energy scenarios can easily take half a year of work or more. Previously
computer power was also a limitation, but today a modern office computer
can perform most optimisation.
It is often advisable
to start with just assessing potentials for renewable energy and energy
conservation, or with simpler models, e.g. based on spreadsheets. Spreadsheet
models do not give economical optimisation, but they are good tools
to calculate environmental and economical effects of a given investment
plan. They can also be helpful to generate inputs to optimisation models.
Several of these models are available for NGOs, e.g.:
- the ESM-model, a
more advanced spreadsheet model with detailed sectoral breakdown, used
a Nordic energy study and in Estonia (contact INFORSE-Europe, Denmark).
- the LEAP model,
used for several international studies by the Stockholm Environmental
and others, contact the Boston branch of SEI.
OVE, The Danish
Organisation for Renewable Energy, and six other NGOs and university
completed the FAIRE project, in which the Elfin model
was used to develop scenarios for five local supply systems in EU.
economical optimal scenarios were found with and without environmental
costs for each of the areas. Most of the optimisation included increased
use of renewable energy.
Beside plans for the
five smaller systems, FAIRE also produced an optimisation of the French
electricity supply. Even though this was done with official
(low) cost figures
nuclear power plants, most scenarios phased out nuclear power plants
within the next 20-30 years and
opted not to build new ones. This was seen as the most optimal economical
The FAIRE project was
supported by the EU JOULE Program.
Project and Elfin model:
Gunnar Boye Olesen (Denmark),
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, and
att. Antoine Bonduelle,
California), e-mail: Elfin@edf.org
Sustainable Energy Systems Analysis Model
(Denmark), att. Klaus Illum,
LEAP - Long-range
Energy Alternatives Planning System
Stockholm Environmental Institute in Boston, USA,