Energy conversion/Data uncertainties limitations

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Data, uncertainty and limitations


The data for the model come from a variety of sources, the main of which are:

Table: Main data sources for the TIMER energy conversion module
Input Data source
Electricity production and primary inputs IEA Statistics and Data
Capacity of different plant types per region Energy Statistics and Data (Enerdata Global Energy & CO2 Data; IEA Statistics and Data), IRENA REsource database (2016)
Performance of fossil fuel and bio-energy fired plants Hendriks et al. (2004a), various sources described in De Boer and Van Vuuren (De Boer and Van Vuuren, 2017)
CCS plants and storage Hendriks et al. (2004b)
Prices IEA Statistics and Data
Hydropower potential Gernaat et al. (2017)
Solar and wind costs Various sources described in De Boer and Van Vuuren (De Boer and Van Vuuren, 2017), residential rooftop PV (Gernaat et al., 2020), offshore wind (Gernaat et al., 2014), concentrated solar power (Koberle et al., 2015), onshore wind and central solar PV (Hoogwijk, 2004)
Nuclear power - technology and resources WEC-Uranium (WEC, 2010; MIT, 2003)
Hydrogen technologies Van Ruijven et al., 2007


The two main uncertainties are calculation of future energy conversion relating to development rates of the conversion technologies, and the consequences for the electricity system of a high level of market penetration of renewable energy. TIMER electric power generation submodule has been tested for different levels of market penetration of renewable energy (De Boer and Van Vuuren, 2017; Pietzcker et al., 2017; Luderer et al., 2017). The model was shown to reproduce the behaviour of more detailed models that describe electricity system developments.


The model describes long-term trends in the energy system, which implies that the focus is on aggregated factors that may determine future energy demand and supply. However in energy conversion, many short-term dynamics can be critical for the system, such as system reliability and ability to respond to demand fluctuations. These processes can only be represented in an aggregated global model in terms of meta-formulations, which implies that some of the integration issues regarding renewable energy are still not addressed. A more detailed discussion on the model limitations can be found in De Boer and Van Vuuren (De Boer and Van Vuuren, 2017).

Another limitation is the formulation of primary fossil-fuel conversions in secondary fuels. TIMER currently does not include a module that explicitly describes these processes.