PhD Position on Energy Systems Modeling - Industrial decarbonization and representation of infrastructure in energy system models

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 30 Sep 2021

Our energy system is undergoing drastic changes in an aim towards decarbonization. On the generation side, we face rapidly increasing shares of intermittent renewable energy sources (RES) like wind and solar photovoltaics. Currently, carbon capture, utilization and storage, and the generation and use of synthetic fuels (such as H2 or other molecules) are also prominently on the research agenda. Especially regarding the decarbonization of industry, these might play a critical role. 

Long-term energy system optimization models are often used to gain insight in the corresponding challenges (technical, economic, policy) and explore possible pathways. Based on a number of assumptions, such models determine a least cost pathway of the energy system under imposed boundary conditions. Focus historically has been mostly on the representation of the electricity generation sector, with only limited/simplified representation of industry. 

We currently have (at least) one PhD position available in this domain, with focus on industrial decarbonization and the representation of infrastructure (electricity grids and molecules transport) in energy system optimization models. Through this research, we aim to better represent industry, with various decarbonization options and possible ‘system integration’ synergies. Towards this end, various energy carriers need to be accounted for (electricity, heat, natural gas, synthetic molecules, CO2), together with the required network infrastructure these require. The use of such models needs to be further scrutinized, given prevailing/future markets and policies (such as EU ETS). Towards this end single optimization models might be complemented with other approaches (e.g., data-analysis/data-driven approaches, equilibrium modeling, GIS tools). 

This position will be funded by a VITO-scholarship and/or by research projects such as PROCURA (Power to X and Carbon Capture & Utilization Roadmap for Belgium, which focus on the role of power-to-X in multi-energy systems and markets). 

The PhD candidate can start from existing energy systems models and dedicated expertise available in the research group, and will collaborate with other research group members.

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