During a workshop, Brazilian and international experts showed the importance of integrated analysis models for decision making

The use of integrated modeling and simulation tools for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, which takes economic, conjunctural, and technological aspects into consideration, is essential for any country to have reliable strategic planning, as well as to facilitate meeting the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement, which was negotiated during COP-21. Here, some of the research centers are already working toward that end. They were together in a workshop held on the 30th of last month, at the Polytechnical School of the University of São Paulo, in São Paulo, to exchange experiences. The event, which was organized by RCGI (FAPESP-SHELL Research Center for Gas Innovation), also had the participation of foreign specialists, representatives of the government, companies, and the third sector.

According to Osvaldo Lucon, Professor at the Energy and Environment Institute (IEE) of the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil is currently working simultaneously with three distinct energy plans: one focusing on a horizon down to 2030, published in 2007; a Ten-year Plan, which covers down through 2024; and a third one, which is basically a study of the demand for energy down to 2050. All of them are published by the Energy Research Company (EPE). “The problem is that these plans are outdated. Some of them, for example, take into consideration a GDP growth of 5% per year. That inflates the expectations of investors and affects the reliability of the strategic planning,” he states.

Osvaldo Lucon

Modeling is a transversal approach to many of the 29 research projects of RCGI. One of them, Project Number 23, coordinated by researcher Ricardo Esparta, of the IEE, along with Lucon, focuses on modeling and simulating scenarios related to the use of natural gas, but it also looks into the entire energy sector and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions. They intend to test one of the tools for the “Energy Technology Systems Analysis Project,” of the International Energy Agency (ETSAP/IEA).

“ETSAP focuses on research and development activities that improve the state-of-the-art of the analysis of energy systems. Our focus is on technology. Some topics, like the mitigation of climate change and political decision-making, improved modeling of the interactions between the energy system and the economy, for example, are of great interest to us,” said the CEO of ETSAP, Brian Ó Gallachóir, who took part in the event.

According to him, despite the consensus that the world must move toward reducing carbon emissions, there is no agreement regarding how to maintain global warming below 2°C. “This is one of the points where energy modeling can help, by identifying ways to build bridges between the ambitions and what is needed to be done to achieve them. We do not make the political decisions, but we can provide information that helps those who have that responsibility,” he pointed out.

Global models – One of the tools detailed at the event was the JRC Energy Trade Model (JRC ETM) – a global  model associated with another tool that is used for modeling and simulation in European countries. Together, they span 44 regions of the globe and assess the impacts and scenarios of the political energy choices relating to the economy (technology options, prices, etc.), to the energy mix, and to carbon emissions. The study explores the potential for development in the medium and long terms (up to 2040) of nonconventional hydrocarbons on a global scale, more precisely related to petroleum and natural gas.

Maurizio Gargiulo, another member of ETSAP, told how this tool allowed drawing up four scenarios, considering two different climate policies based on the last report of the IPCC, according to levels of concentration of GHGs. The scenarios were entitled RCP 4.5-Low, RCP 4.5-High, RCP 2.6-Low, and RCP 2.6-High (RCP = Representative Concentration Pathways). “In the RCP 4.5 scenarios, the level of emissions in 2040 will be 31% higher than in 2010. In the others, it will 44% lower than in 2010. We also foresee that natural gas will play a key role in providing energy, in the case of rising demand: from 84%-90% greater than there was in 2010 in what are considered to be the low scenarios and from 113%-120% greater than in 2010 in the high scenarios.”

National solutions – Recognized for its expertise in modeling emissions scenarios, the COPPE of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) presented several versions of the tools at the event: the MSB 300, a compact model; the MSB 8000, more complex and includes the use of the Earth; and the COFFEE, the only global model developed outside of Europe, Japan, and the U.S.

“We began developing the MSB in the 1990s, after analyzing a large number of studies. Its big distinctive difference is that it takes into consideration the role of biomass, since Brazil has numerous technologies for using biomass. The MSB 8000, since it includes the use of the Earth, is able to anticipate the competition between the production of food and the production of energy. Its emissions calculations include the burning of fossil fuels by all of the sectors, industrial processes, waste treatment, and fugitive emissions,” explained Alexandre Szklo, Associate Professor in the Energy Planning Program of COPPE.

The COFFEE is a global model that includes 18 regions. “We separated Brazil, India, South Africa, Russia, and China, because we want to know what is happening with the BRICS. The model also includes transportation and the potential of storing carbon, by region, which is truly an unprecedented thing,” he pointed out. The next step, said Szklo, will be to include water in the models created by the institution.

Gas and renewable sources – According to the calculations of the Energy Research Company (EPE), in 2030 Brazil will have 24% of its energy produced by biomass and the use of sun and wind. “Brazil committed to reducing emissions at the last Climate Conference, in Paris. This is for the commitments to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 37% by 2025, and by 43% by 2030, with 2005 being the base year. In order for us to achieve those goals, we must increase the participation of renewable sources in the Brazilian energy mix by 23% by 2030, and this does not count the energy generated by hydroelectric plants,” said Jeferson Soares, Superintendent of Energy Economy for EPE.

In the view of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Mining and Energy of the State of São Paulo, Dirceu Abrahão, it is necessary to ensure that the Country – and particularly the State of São Paulo – has energy at the time it is needed. “We consume 30% of the Nation’s energy, but we are not self-sufficient in energy production. Because of the pre-salt program, we are dealing with this situation of a large offering of natural gas in deep waters. We have three thermoelectric plants in the State and there are plans for three more. To begin with, all of the gas from pre-salt would be available for operating those plants. Furthermore, we also have 4.7 million hectares of sugarcane planted in the State, whose waste produces biogas and biomethane. So, over the coming years, I expect that we will be able to substitute diesel fuel with natural gas,” Abrahão added.

Dirceu Abrahão

Research scientist Ricardo Esparta, who organized the event, highlighted the importance of making a joint effort to adopt the use of natural gas in São Paulo, which is the Nation’s biggest energy consumer, but does not produce enough for its own use. “In a short time, we will have much natural gas available in the State, coming from pre-salt. We should have already planned what we will do with it, to know what is worth it, what is not worth it, and what the impacts are of adopting natural gas, in terms of emissions.”

Ricardo Esparta