UCL Energy Institute


Decision-making under uncertainty in the energy sector – UCL Energy Seminar

05 March 2019, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

The Thames at night | Photo by Alexander London on Unsplash

This seminar will be led by Dr Katy Roelich, an expert on adaptive decision-making for urban energy transformations at the University of Leeds.

This event is free.

Event Information

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UCL Energy Institute


Room 225, Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place
United Kingdom

Download the presentation (PDF, 1.6MB)


In this seminar, Dr Katy Roelich will argue that we need to find new ways to accommodate uncertainty in the decisions we make about energy, not just in the models we use to support those decisions.

There has been a great deal of work to assess both the quantitative and qualitative uncertainties associated with energy system models, which has improved the quality and robustness of such models and the scenarios they are used to model. However, these models and scenarios are frequently used inappropriately when supporting decisions, for example, by selecting a ‘preferred’ scenario and putting in place measures to bring that scenario about. This encourages false precision and a ‘predict and act’ approach that is at odds with significant and deep uncertainty associated with energy system change.

To counter this misappropriation of models and scenarios, more work is needed to understand how decision-making approaches can be better aligned with the process of foresight and engage more appropriately with the uncertainty embedded in models and modelled scenarios.

The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception.

About the speaker

Katy is an Associate Professor at the University of Leeds and co-leads the Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Group within the School of Earth and Environment. Prior to this she co-lead the Rethinking Development theme at the Stockholm Environment Institute and was a senior sustainability consultant at Arup. In a former life she was a chartered engineer supervising the clean-up of contaminated sites ranging from an oil terminal in the far reaches of Scotland to a nuclear bomb test site in the pacific. 

Her current work is concerned with decision making under uncertainty, particularly adaptive and participatory decision making. Katy has worked on a range of UKRI and EU-funded projects, including the UK Energy Research Centre and one of the End Use Energy Demand Centres. She currently holds an EPSRC Challenge Fellowship examining how we can make better decisions to transform infrastructure systems, taking into account deep physical and social uncertainties and crucially, the fact that multiple actors must make decisions and interact to deliver system transformation.

More information

Image: Photo by Alexander London on Unsplash