Overall System Analysis of Sector Coupling - Economic Assessment of Energy Infrastructure and Generation for a Coupling of the Electricity, Heat and Transport Sectors


German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Project Management Jülic


September 2020 to August 2023

Germany and Europe are to become climate-neutral. To achieve this, renewable energies must be further expanded and more closely interlinked with the building, transport and industry sectors. Coupling helps to integrate and use renewable energies. But it also changes how energy is converted, distributed and used. It is still an open question how a decarbonized, cost-efficient and reliable energy system is optimally designed.

Methodologically, such questions can be analyzed with modern energy system models. These models usually represent subsectors of the energy system, such as the grid infrastructure, the electricity market or the end-use sectors. Due to the complexity of the problem, other areas of the energy system are often only represented in a simplified way or neglected.

The Green VEgaS research project addresses the question of how the complex energy system can be analyzed and evaluated holistically. To this end, a tool chain is being developed for the multi-stage, iterative optimization and economic evaluation of the cross-sectoral energy infrastructure, generation and demand. The tool chain is based on existing models of the participating institutes, which will be further developed within the project against the background of sector and model coupling. Specifically, the energy system model DIMENSION of the EWI, the electricity grid model of the TU Dortmund and the heat and gas grid model of the GWI will be coupled.

EWI’s role in Green VEgas

EWI contributes its energy system model DIMENSION to the development of the tool chain for coupling the three models. Thus, it will be possible to consider transformation paths of the European electricity market and the end-use sectors across the board. The model will be further developed in the course of the project, especially with regard to sector coupling, and coupled with the models of the participating institutes:

  • The basis of the model coupling is a common, consistent database. EWI contributes its expertise in the definition of scenarios.
  • EWI models the integrated energy system and determines cost-efficient expansion paths within the sectors electricity, power-to-X, heat and transport.
  • EWI’s model DIMENSION is extended by the mapping of sub-national regions. This enables the explicit consideration of regional characteristics, for example with regard to the existing (grid) infrastructure.
  • In addition to regionalization, further extensions of DIMENSION to link the three models are envisaged. In particular, the mapping of the interface technologies is to be investigated, validated and further developed in cooperation with the project partners.