(241d) Towards Sustainable Energy Mixes: Incorporating Planetary Boundaries into Energy Systems Models

Authors: 
Algunaibet, I. M., Imperial College London
Pozo Fernández, C., Imperial College London
Galán Martín, Á., Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
Huijbregts, M. A. J., Radboud University
Mac Dowell, N., Imperial College London
Guillén-Gosálbez, G., Imperial College London
Planetary boundaries identify a safe space for humanity to evolve that would prevent the potential occurrence of deleterious nonlinear events highly detrimental to the Earth. Current energy systems are designed considering mainly economic criteria and bounds on greenhouse gas emissions. This narrow scope can lead to unsustainable energy mixes. We present an approach to incorporate planetary boundaries into energy systems models. Taking the United States as a testbed, we show that the Paris Agreement solution results in transgressing five out of eight planetary boundaries. Due to the stringent planetary boundary on biogeochemical nitrogen flow, we find no mix capable of satisfying all planetary boundaries concurrently. Though the mix that meets seven out of eight planetary boundaries concurrently has a negative impact on one of the climate change planetary boundaries and ocean acidification due to the deployment of bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, i.e., a negative emission technology, it doubles the cost in contrast to the least cost energy mix. Incorporating planetary boundaries into energy systems models are necessary to determine the resilience of the power sector towards meeting the Earth’s ecological capacity, and consequently design sustainable environmental policies.