National Grid uses UK TIMES in their 2018 Future Energy Scenarios

12 Jul 2018

National Grid published their annual Future Energy Scenarios today, considering how the UK’s energy supply might change in the future.

New to this year’s edition is the inclusion of supporting analysis provided by researchers at UCL using the UK TIMES energy system model of the UK. UK TIMES was developed at UCL, with support from wholeSEM and UKERC, in partnership with the UK Government.

By bringing together insights from a wide array of energy stakeholders, the importance of the Future Energy Scenarios has grown over time, becoming a reference for the sector’s industrial, academic and policy practitioners. Last year, FES17 focused on the trade-offs between Prosperity and Green Ambition.  FES18 takes a different approach of setting out four plausible energy futures in which energy generation either remains centralised or becomes more decentralised, and the UK either meets or falls short of the 80% greenhouse-gas emission target in 2050.

National Grid have used UK TIMES to explore the costs and greenhouse gas emissions of each scenario for the first time. UK TIMES costs all technologies and commodities used in the energy system, tracking detailed, sectoral level, greenhouse gas emissions across the economy.

UK TIMES is a bottom-up, technology rich, partial equilibrium, optimisation tool built using the International Energy Agency (IEA) model generator for in depth energy and environmental analyses. As such, UK TIMES blends technical and economic approaches, representing all sectors that either produce, consume or otherwise interact with energy in the UK. This means that the model offers an internally consistent test bed for developing medium to long-term scenarios that affect energy stakeholders across the board.

The first step in this work was to replicate the four FES18 scenarios in UK TIMES. Outputs from several National Grid models were used to identify energy service demands in each sector of the economy (including buildings, transport, and industry), and to identify the principal technologies that would supply energy in the future. This data was used to create the whole scenario in UK TIMES, with the model generating cost and emissions data.  This is the first time National Grid has costed the Future Energy Scenarios.

The level of complexity of the whole system remains high. This means that no single tool is able to capture all aspects of the analysis and trade-offs that need to be considered. With this in mind, further work will complete the UK TIMES scenario replication to look at elements that fall outside the remit of long-term optimisation modelling frameworks. National Grid will be continuing the analysis with a view to engage stakeholders at a later date where possible.

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