This brief explores the models captured in our recent survey of UK energy models. It considered the various strengths and weaknesses of energy models, focusing on how models deal with time, space, technology and behaviour.

The energy transition is a huge challenge, encompassing many different economic sectors, a wide variety of fuels and technologies, a host of different actors, a range of environment impacts, and a plethora of possible policy responses. The energy transition therefore needs to be considered across a variety of geographical scales – from neighbourhoods to the world, and across different time-frames – from sub-hourly operation of technologies, to decadal turnovers in both infrastructures and societal attitudes.

Energy models provide the underpinning evidence to support decision makers across policy, industry and civil society, helping them to understand strategies and trade-offs in the energy transition. No single model can therefore cover all the elements required to understand the energy transition.

To investigate this critical issue and gain an understanding of the energy models in use in the UK, UKERC’s Energy Modelling Hub coordinated a ground-breaking survey of all UK energy models.

This policy brief (#2) is the second of four exploring the models captured in the survey.  The first brief on the UK energy modelling landscape, detailed the breadth of modelling in the UK. In this second brief we focus on the findings that shed light on the various strengths and weaknesses of UK energy models. In considering this we focus on four key areas:

  • How the models deal with time, in terms of temporal detail and overall time horizon
  • How the models deal with space, in terms of geographical detail and capturing infrastructures
  • How the models deal with technologies, in terms of technology learning and inclusion of key mitigation options
  • How the models deal with behaviour, in terms of consumer responses and broader societal trends