Dr. Iulia Falcan

Transition towards a renewable European electricity system: What are the implications for the power technology mix, pan-European power trade and the electricity market?

Year: 2021

Thomas Ziesemer and Adriaan van Zon


The research presented in this dissertation identifies and investigates the main challenges faced by the transition towards a low-carbon electricity system in the EU.

More specifically, the research presented in the first part looks at how different European countries can cooperate in order to achieve lower-cost clean power systems. Due to the wide variation in weather patterns across the EU, an integrated approach to the design of a low-carbon European electricity system - as opposed to individual, national-level approaches - would result in significant cost savings.

In a second part, I develop a model that provides estimates for these cost savings, for a selection of EU countries. A second important challenge raised by the large-scale deployment of wind and solar power technologies concerns the current operation of electricity markets. Due to its zero fuel cost, power generated by solar and wind plants puts a downward pressure on electricity prices. This makes it difficult for conventional power plants to remain competitive, even though they are necessary in ensuring the stability of the power grid. Therefore, an understanding of the type of challenges that a high share of these variable renewable energy sources would bring about for the current design of the electricity market is essential, in order to guarantee the smooth operation of the power grid.

In the last part, I investigate the effects of power from solar and wind energy technologies on the electricity price and its variance, as well as on the convergence of electricity prices between different European countries.

The social impact of the research presented in this dissertation is therefore directly related to the global ambitions to lower the GHG emissions associated with the electricity sector. The scientific impact of these research results adds to an increasing empirical literature that studies the effects of intermittent renewable energy on different aspects of the power system and on the electricity market.

Ultimately, the research discussed in this dissertation aims to contribute to the understanding of the particular set of challenges that the EU faces in its transition away from a fossil-fuels intensive power system and towards a low-carbon one.

Selected publications by Iulia Falcan