The path to 2050: strategic insights from modelling the UK energy system

Mr George Day, Energy Technologies Institute

The Energy Technologies Institute, a public private partnership between global industries and the UK Government, has developed an innovative internationally peer-reviewed tool for modelling the UK’s national energy system incorporating not only power sector options but heat and transport systems.  The approach is policy neutral focusing on optimising the key technology and engineering choices in the UK’s energy system in a holistic way.  The modelling approach optimises energy system choices, taking account of cost, engineering, spatial and temporal factors.  This paper will explore the insights from ETI’s current modelling capability, from an economic perspective, with a particular focus on three key themes.

Robustness of key technology choices: future markets and technical developments are inherently uncertain, but by using a probabilistic approach modelling can inform us about which technologies are most robust to future uncertainties.  The paper will explore this from a UK perspective and identify what current modelling results tell us about the key uncertainties where further analysis would be most informative, and the key inter-dependencies between different parts of the UK energy system.

Sequencing strategic actions: how much can a modelling approach can tell us about the path dependencies in the development of a low carbon energy system in the UK over the coming decades?  The paper will assess and explore the sequential selection of key energy system technologies, examining the implications of sequential pathway modelling scenarios and the implications that these raise for the phasing and sequencing of UK effort in innovation, strategic investments and policy interventions.

Economic incentives: modelling future energy system choices from an engineering and and underlying resource constraint perspective also allows us to assess the challenges in ensuring that economic incentives are aligned with effective delivery of the optimal strategic energy system choices.  The paper will explore what energy systems modelling can tell us about the most important areas for the application of price and market signals and where new business models will need to emerge to commercialise and deploy key technologies.

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