As you can see in the bottom cartoon-video on the right, the third attempt had been the winning one! But then I did have to carry out this project! This blog kept trace of my adventure. Here I reported the progress of my research, but I also talked about my life-changing experience in the US, as well as I reported and commented on news that I found particularly interesting in my project’s perspective, or more in general with regard to the energy sector and climate change.

The results of the project are presented in the newsletter and are discussed in detail in the Output section (which I have been updating after the completion of the project). The top cartoon-video on the right provides a summary of the results.



The extended title of the MERCURY project is “Modeling the European power sector evolution: low-carbon generation technologies (renewables, CCS, nuclear), the electric infrastructure and their role in the EU leadership in climate policy”. Here is its abstract.

The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a vital target for the coming decades. From a technology perspective, power generation is the largest responsible for CO2 emissions, therefore great mitigation efforts will be required in this area. From a policy perspective, it is common opinion that the European Union is and will remain leader in implementing clean policies. Basing on these considerations, the power sector and the European Union will be the two key actors of this project. The main tool adopted in this work will be WITCH, the integrated assessment model developed at Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

The description of the power generation sector in WITCH is quite detailed, but needs to be integrated, especially as far as the electric infrastructure downstream the power generation system is concerned. In the first half of the project, developed during the outgoing phase at the University of California, Berkeley, the modeling of the electric sector will thus be completed and refined, also through the interaction with the SWITCH model, which is developed there. In particular, four main aspects need to be assessed: i) system integration (i.e. the issues related to the non-negligible penetration of intermittent renewables in the grid), ii) electricity storage, iii) electrical grid, and iv) electricity trade.

In the second half of the project, developed during the return phase at Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, the improved WITCH model will be employed in scenario assessment calculations. Firstly, the prospects in Europe of renewables, CCS and nuclear will be analysed. In particular, attention will be focused not so much on the pure technology aspects, but rather on policy issues such as the role of incentives in renewable diffusion, the slow CCS deployment, or the effects of the nuclear reactors ageing, or of their phase-out. Secondly, the focus will move on assessing the role of these technologies (and the consequent evolution of the electric infrastructure) according to different mitigation scenarios, and in particular considering different levels of global participation in EU-led climate mitigation.

The project lasted two years, from January 16, 2017 to January 15, 2019. The two partner institutions were: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (Supervisor: Prof. Massimo Tavoni until July 2018, Prof. Manfred Hafner afterwards) and the University of California, Berkeley (Supervisor: Prof. Daniel Kammen).

The MERCURY project “Modeling the European power sector evolution: low-carbon generation technologies (renewables, CCS, nuclear), the electric infrastructure and their role in the EU leadership in climate policy” has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 706330.