The winning thesis, titled “The integration of renewable energy into North African electricity systems,” explores how an increasing penetration of renewable technologies – notably wind, photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) can be efficiently handled by North African electricity grids. The thesis is largely built around a linear optimization model, calculating cost-minimized expansion pathways for different mid-term scenarios for North African electricity systems.
The results allow conclusions to be reached about cost-optimized power plant portfolios, the commissioning/retirements of power plants and projections for optimized transmission networks in North Africa to accommodate larger quantities of renewable electricity.
“I am honoured to receive this award and to share my findings. I believe these will help planners and decision makers, working on the region’s renewable energy future, to look at innovative planning tools and models for the successful integration of renewable energy on a macro scale over longer time horizons,” noted Dr. Brand. “North Africa is endowed with abundant, but largely unexploited, renewable energy resources. A few years ago, the announcement of the ‘Desertec’ concept, the idea of tapping the region’s wind and solar potential for European electricity supply, triggered a number of studies on how North Africa could realize a higher renewable power export potential. Less attention, however, was paid to the subject of renewable integration into the existing domestic power systems to satisfy local demand.”
Lucy Craig, Director of Technology & Innovation at DNV GL Energy commented: “in this thesis, Dr. Brand outlines a number of key innovation and technical issues that DNV GL has also been focusing on strategically such as electrification in Africa and improved integration of renewables into grids. Not only are these issues important for development on the continent itself but also ensuring we maximise the potential of renewable energy and its impact on climate change.”
Robert Rawlinson Smith, Service Area Leader for Renewables Advisory at DNV GL Energy, noted: “the thesis is impressively focused and highlights major new insights, in particular showing cost savings from the interconnection of North African countries’ electricity systems as well as from the expansion of renewable energy within those countries.”
Bernhard Brand holds a diploma in physics of the University of Heidelberg. Prior to his PhD thesis, he worked as consultant for various renewable energy projects, mostly in the Middle East and North Africa. His research affiliations were the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne, the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment & Energy and the University of Utrecht.
DNV GL offers PhD students from across the globe the chance to enter the annual “DNV GL PhD Award in Renewable Energy and Grid Integration” competition. Theses covering the themes of renewables, grid integration, innovation and reducing the cost of energy can enter the competition with the author of the winning thesis receiving a €5,000 cash prize.
The competition and prize was first initiated in 2012 to support research & development, education, the creation of new knowledge and to encourage the development of advanced technology and processes for renewable energy. In order to combat the threat of the growing engineering skills shortage, DNV GL understands the value of supporting the next generation of renewable energy leaders and the new innovative ideas that they bring to the table. Judging criteria will focus on innovation providing new creative insights and ideas to move the renewable energy industry forward. Special focus will be on how the work promotes innovation in wind and solar PV, grid integration of renewables and how the work reduces the cost of energy for renewables.