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Victoria Group

Climate change mitigation is one of the largest challenges of our time. To achieve net-zero emissions different technologies and strategies need to be employed. Understanding how to combine and integrate existing alternatives requires a systemic approach that could identify the research gaps and select those strategies with higher chances of success. The recent cost decrease of wind and solar photovoltaics presents an opportunity to decarbonize not only the power system but also other sectors via direct electrification (e.g. heat pumps and electric vehicles) and indirect electrification (e.g. power-to-X). Moreover, technologies dealing with the capture of CO2 (either from point sources or direct air capture) and its conversion to synthetic fuels and chemicals will be key to ensuring carbon neutrality and decarbonizing difficult-to-abate sectors such as industry, shipping, or aviation. System modelling helps us to gain insights into the design and operation of complex systems where many technologies are interlinked, as well as to identify competing and synergetic relationships among those technologies. Ultimately, system modelling is the key tool to identify the best strategies to achieve timely climate change mitigation.

In the Victoria group, we develop macro-energy system models that use a multidisciplinary approach combining engineering, meteorology, optimization theory, complex networks, economics, and environmental policy. We adhere to open science principles and promote openness and transparency in our models. We co-develop the state-of-the-art open-source energy model PyPSA-Eur-Sec. It comprises high temporal and spatial resolution, which is key to representing variability in highly renewable energy systems. Among other purposes, our modelling results are used to (i) inform policymakers, (ii) quantify social dilemmas regarding the transition to a sustainable future,  and (iii) help technology developers working with CO2 capture and conversion technologies understand the potential role of their technology in the global system and the research gaps.

Marta Victoria on systems modelling to reduce CO₂ emissions

Systems modelling is a tool to learn about potential strategies to reduce CO₂ emissions and a tool to learn about how to combine the different technologies; how much wind, solar - or carbon capture we will need and when we will need it. The modelling has some limitations, and we are working on making our analysis robust and useful for policymakers, society and also for the technology developers.