UCL Energy Institute


UKERC launch ground-breaking energy model survey

15 December 2020

UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Energy Modelling Hub are coordinating a survey to collect information about all the energy models in the UK.

Photo of a pylon and cables against a pink sunset.

Analysis of the energy transition is dominated by energy modelling, an outcome of decades of analysis of the energy sector being quantified  to show physical flows of energy, technology characteristics, economic costs and benefits, or environmental impacts. Energy is a truly interdisciplinary subject so models are a great short-hand way to combine different methods from different disciplines.

So energy models are here to stay. Obviously, models exist alongside empirical analysis and qualitative research methods. But modellers are always trying to find ways to capture the insights from these other approaches.

Hence energy models provide the underpinning language to support decision makers across policy, industry, and civil society. If you see an energy related number (or much better a range of numbers) in a media outlet, a company strategy, or a policy document – it likely originated in a model.

To ensure that energy models are able to be more transparent UKERC believe that transparency is key to ensure the implications (and limitations) of energy models are fully understood by decision makers, so they are coordinating a survey to collect information about all the energy models in the UK.

The major findings will be initially communicated by putting interactive diagrams/tables on the UKERC website. Contributing modelling teams and our Steering Group will receive further in-depth analysis of the range of UK energy models.

UKERC are defining a “UK energy model” as having six key elements:

  1. It has an underlying methodology captured via equations
  2. It is processed via a programming language or via a software environment
  3. It produces results that can then be communicated
  4. It has energy as a key part of its inputs or outputs
  5. It has the UK (or sub-regions of the UK) as part of its geographical coverage
  6. It is designed to be used more than once

A mid-term aim is that all policy orientated energy modelling would become more transparent, progressing to level 1 (open description), and onto level 2 (open access). And we will discuss with our Steering Group how transparency can be built into future funding calls and commissioned energy modelling projects.

The Steering Group consists of key stakeholders (UKRI, BEIS, Scottish Government, Northern Ireland Government, Committee on Climate Change, Energy Systems Catapult, and the National Infrastructure Commission).

Access the survey