Sector coupling can provide much needed flexibility for the energy transition

The sector coupling strategy aims at two objectives: First, the aim is to reduce carbon emissions through electrification in non-ETS sectors such as transport, buildings, and industry. Secondly, sector coupling can unlock flexibility for the power sector by taking advantage of fuel switching opportunities and energy storage in these sectors such as electric batteries in cars or heat storages. A new study published by NorENS researchers at DTU and NMBU explores the potential of sector coupling in the energy system transition.

It uses an updated version of the Balmorel energy system model and studies a least cost energy system for 2050 with high costs of emission. The model covers energy demand for transport, electricity, as well as heating in buildings and industry.

Change of paradigm

The study shows how sector coupling leads to a change of paradigm in the energy system. While currently, power generation adapts to inflexible power demand, sector coupling implies a system where flexible demand adapts to variable generation. A sector coupling strategy will imply increased use of electricity, more variable renewable energy replacing fossil fuels in power, heating and transportation, and lower emissions. It does, however, require more heat storage capacity as well as electricity and district heating transmission expansions towards 2050 The model study confirms that more sector coupling help emission reductions. The highest sector coupling scenario achieve the highest emission reduction by 2045: 76% greenhouse gases reduction with respect to 1990 levels.

The full article is available at:


Published 21. June 2021 - 9:41 - Updated 21. June 2021 - 9:47