This summary provides an overview of discussions and key themes arising from a modelling workshop focused on local energy system modelling and scenario tools.

Place-based approaches to decarbonisation emphasise the value of local energy system modelling and scenario tools that can inform decision makers about options, strategies and trade-offs. Many local and regional governments are using such tools to help develop local energy planning and delivery programmes. In addition, electricity network companies prepare Distribution Future Energy Scenarios (DFES) based on disaggregation of national grid scenarios, and other national and regional models inform policymaking. Energy system modelling tools have varying methodologies, scales and priorities and alignment or integration can be uncertain. There are also questions about how outputs feed into decision-making and any subsequent investments.

To explore some of these questions the UKERC organised a modelling workshop with cross-sector local, regional and national stakeholders on 6th July 2023. The workshop aimed to create dialogue between model developers and users at various scales. It explored practitioner responses to different energy system modelling tools, how different scales of system modelling interact and uses of energy modelling in decision-making. This summary provides an overview of discussions and key emerging themes, which comprise:

Integrating models across scales: there is a risk of individual local area energy plans (LAEPs) becoming siloed with limited incentives to manage interactions across a region. Ongoing development of Regional Energy Strategic Planner (RESP) roles could play an important role in structuring interactions across scales. Currently there is a risk that the diversity of local approaches limits the ability of actors at other scales (Ofgem and DNOs) to take account of local modelling and planning.

Communicating outputs and supporting multi-actor decision-making: model outputs often require translation to make them clear to politicians and investors. The targeting of modelling analysis to decision making processes could be improved.

Standardisation and interoperability: It is difficult to compare modelling approaches due to the wide range of methods, data sources and outputs. Standardisation of models is complex as different models are designed to examine different questions, however there is a need to develop common approaches to data architecture, terminology, assumptions and presentation of outputs.

Incorporating behavioural factors: modelling behavioural factors is an area of weakness for most models and should be a focus of development. Local stakeholders could play an important role in developing new approaches to behavioural modelling.

Local authority capacity: technical modelling capacity and resources within local authorities are limited. Coordination structures should minimise additional inputs required at this level and consider how to develop added value for local, regional and national actors. Ultimately, Local Authorities need sufficient resources and capacity to use what they learn from modelled scenarios and to articulate their significance for local communities, businesses and public bodies.