UCL Energy Institute


Energy and Environmental Systems

The Energy & Environmental Systems theme at UCL Energy Institute is the largest academic centre of energy systems modelling knowledge in the UK, with a reputation in the field that has global reach.

Energy Systems

The highly interdisciplinary team does research focusing on the interactions of different energy system elements, across a wide range of geographical scales (UK, EU, the World), with different tools focusing on different elements of the system (technology, economy, environment & climate change). The theme includes academics, research staff and PhD students, and is led by Dr Steve Pye. Descriptions of the models that we use across the theme can be found on the Energy models page.

The theme includes researchers who are also member of the following labs and groups:


Neil Strachan
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Gabrial Ananandarajah
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Mark Barrett
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Catalina Spataru
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Paul Dodds
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Steve Pye
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Olivier Dessens
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James Price
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Matthew Winning
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Baltazar Solano
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Pei-Hao Li
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Rachel Freeman
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Elsa Barazza
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Oliver Broad
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Isabela Butnar
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Priscila Carvalho
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Tiziano Gallo Cassarino
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Jennifer Cronin
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Femi Eludoyin
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Leonhard Hofbauer
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Victor Ponce Lopez
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Daniel Scamman
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Brunilde Verrier
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Daniel Welsby
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Chris Kim
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Project details


A collaborative research initiative aiming to bring socio-technical energy transition (STET) ideas into use within real world decision-making in the UK.

Funding Body: EPSRC
Principal Investigator: Professor Neil Strachan

UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Phase 4

Our work in UKERC 4 comprises of the following (UCL lead in brackets):

  • The Energy Modelling Hub, which will meet the challenge of transparency in modelling. A key task has been to collect and curate a comprehensive database of all the energy models in the UK (Prof. Neil Strachan)
  • Under theme ‘Energy Infrastructure Transitions’, our focus is agent based modelleing of governance and financing of the energy transition (Prof. Neil Strachan).
  • Under theme ‘UK Energy in a Global Context’, our focus is developing global scenarios using TIAM-UCL, to better represent geopolitical factors (Prof. Paul Dodds).
  • Under theme ‘Local and Regional Energy Systems’, our focus is on the development of a regional energy system model, based on the UKTM model (Prof. Paul Dodds).

Funding Body: EPSRC

Centre for the Reduction in Energy Demand (CREDS)

Decarbonisation of heat project is focused on what solutions are available and how could they be integrated to decarbonise UK heat. There is a particular focus on the development and application of energy models for better heat pathway representation in whole systems.
Funding Body: EPSRC
Principal Investigator: Professor Bob Lowe

EnergyREV: New wave of energy systems

The scale-up of smart local energy systems (SLES) heavily depends on the investment decisions of national and local investors as well as policy makers in the electricity market. A novel agent-based model (BRAIN-Energy) is expanded to better represent national and local agent behaviours.
Funding Body: UKRI
Principal Investigator: Professor Neil Strachan

Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC)

A structured analysis of the political economy of the industrial energy transition, focusing on the dependencies, feedbacks and tipping points between incumbent "sunset" industries/firms and emerging "sunrise" industries/firms
Funding Body: Industrial decarbonisation challenge-UKRI
Principal Investigator: Professor Neil Strachan


The project aims to contribute to technology development that will help the UK to meet its ambitious carbon emissions targets by studying and exploiting the impact of hydrogen and fuel cells in low carbon energy landscape.

Funding Body: EPSRC
Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Ekins


A four-year EU-funded research project that aims to work with key economic and societal actors to generate new, state-of-the-art low-carbon pathways for the European Union.

Funding Body: European Commission (H2020)
Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Ekins


A 4 year funded project to improve current generation of Integrated Assessment Models to provide new insight into how long-term climate goals can translate into short-term policy action, and how countries and sectors can work in concert to implement the Paris Agreement.
Funding Body: European Commission (H2020)
Principal Investigator: Dr Steve Pye

Climate Compatible Growth (CCG)

Programme funded by the UK’s Foreign Development and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) to support investment in sustainable energy and transport systems to meet development priorities in the Global South.  CCG provides research and global public goods. These are to help countries develop economic strategies, plans, and policies to attract investment into low-carbon growth opportunities across multiple sectors. These are to support growth aspirations and better meet the SDGs.

Funding Body: FCDO
Principal Investigator: Professor Jim Watson

Greening the Recovery in Ghana and Zambia

Project to explore opportunities for integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation actions into national economic recovery plans in Ghana and Zambia.

Funding Body: UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund and Newton Fund
Principal Investigator: Professor Jim Watson

Re-Energize DR3

Research project aims to help countries develop appropriate policies and adaptive governance mechanisms and economic strategies in line with SDGs and Climate Change Agendas. The approach combines resource nexus modelling, with AI, ML and NLP for social media data analysis and close interactions with stakeholders within a transdisciplinary research agenda to re-energize governance of DR3 for sustainable development.

Principal Investigator: Professor Catalina Spataru

Recent publications
  • Barazza, E., & Strachan, N. (2020a). The co-evolution of climate policy and investments in electricity markets: Simulating agent dynamics in UK, German and Italian electricity sectors. Energy Research & Social Science, 65, 101458. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2020.101458
  • Barazza, E., & Strachan, N. (2020b). The impact of heterogeneous market players with bounded-rationality on the electricity sector low-carbon transition. Energy Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111274
  • Barazza, E., & Strachan, N. (2021). The key role of historic path-dependency and competitor imitation on the electricity sector low-carbon transition. Energy Strategy Reviews, 33, 100588. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esr.2020.100588
  • Broad, O., Hawker, G., & Dodds, P. E. (2020). Decarbonising the UK residential sector: The dependence of national abatement on flexible and local views of the future. Energy Policy, 140, 111321.
  • Butnar, I., Broad, O., Solano Rodriguez, B., & Dodds, P. E. (2020). The role of bioenergy for global deep decarbonization: CO2 removal or low-carbon energy? GCB Bioenergy, 12(3), 198–212. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12666
  • Butnar, I., Li, P.-H., Strachan, N., Pereira, J. P., Gambhir, A., & Smith, P. (2019). A deep dive into the modelling assumptions for biomass with carbon capture and storage (BECCS): A transparency exercise. Environmental Research Letters. Retrieved from http://iopscience.iop.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ab5c3e
  • Cronin, J., Hughes, N., Tomei, J., Caiado Couto, L., Ali, M., Kizilcec, V., … Watson, J. (2021). Embedding justice in the 1.5°C transition: A transdisciplinary research agenda. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Transition, 1, 100001. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rset.2021.100001
  • Cronin, J., Zabel, F., Dessens, O., & Anandarajah, G. (2020). Land suitability for energy crops under scenarios of climate change and land-use. GCB Bioenergy, 12(8), 648–665. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12697
  • Dobbins, A., Fuso Nerini, F., Deane, P., & Pye, S. (2019). Strengthening the EU response to energy poverty. Nature Energy, 4(1), 2–5. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-018-0316-8
  • Fell, M. J., Pye, S., & Hamilton, I. (2020). Capturing the distributional impacts of long-term low-carbon transitions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eist.2019.01.007
  • Gambhir, A., Butnar, I., Li, P.-H., Smith, P., & Strachan, N. (2019). A Review of Criticisms of Integrated Assessment Models and Proposed Approaches to Address These, through the Lens of BECCS. Energies , Vol. 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/en12091747
  • Harmsen, M., Kriegler, E., van Vuuren, D. P., van der Wijst, K.-I., Luderer, G., Cui, R., … Zakeri, B. (2021). Integrated assessment model diagnostics: key indicators and model evolution. Environmental Research Letters, 16(5), 54046. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/abf964
  • Keppo, I., Butnar, I., Bauer, N., Caspani, M., Edelenbosch, O., Emmerling, J., … Wagner, F. (2021). Exploring the possibility space: taking stock of the diverse capabilities and gaps in integrated assessment models. Environmental Research Letters, 16(5), 53006. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/abe5d8
  • Lefèvre, J., Briand, Y., Pye, S., Tovilla, J., Li, F., Oshiro, K., … Zhang, R. (2021). A pathway design framework for sectoral deep decarbonization: the case of passenger transportation. Climate Policy, 21(1), 93–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2020.1804817
  • Li, F. G. N., Bataille, C., Pye, S., & O’Sullivan, A. (2019). Prospects for energy economy modelling with big data: Hype, eliminating blind spots, or revolutionising the state of the art? Applied Energy, 239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2019.02.002
  • Li, P.-H., Keppo, I., Xenitidou, M., & Kamargianni, M. (2020). Investigating UK consumers’ heterogeneous engagement in demand-side response. Energy Efficiency, 13(4), 621–648. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12053-020-09847-7
  • Li, P.-H., Pye, S., & Keppo, I. (2020). Using clustering algorithms to characterise uncertain long-term decarbonisation pathways. Applied Energy, 268, 114947. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2020.114947
  • Montenegro, R. C., Fragkos, P., Dobbins, A. H., Schmid, D., Pye, S., & Fahl, U. (2021). Beyond the Energy System: Modeling Frameworks Depicting Distributional Impacts for Interdisciplinary Policy Analysis. Energy Technology, 9(1), 2000668. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1002/ente.202000668
  • Price, J., Mainzer, K., Petrović, S., Zeyringer, M., & McKenna, R. (2020). The implications of landscape visual impact on future highly renewable power systems: a case study for Great Britain. IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 1. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPWRS.2020.2992061
  • Pye, S, Broad, O., Bataille, C., Brockway, P., Daly, H. E., Freeman, R., … Watson, J. (2020). Modelling net-zero emissions energy systems requires a change in approach. Climate Policy, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2020.1824891
  • Pye, Steve, Bradley, S., Hughes, N., Price, J., Welsby, D., & Ekins, P. (2020). An equitable redistribution of unburnable carbon. Nature Communications, 11(3968), 3968. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17679-3
  • Pye, Steve, Li, P.-H., Keppo, I., & O’gallachoir, B. (2019). Technology interdependency in the United Kingdom’s low carbon energy transition. Energy Strategy Reviews, 24, 314–330.
  • Scamman, D., Solano-Rodríguez, B., Pye, S., Chiu, L. F., Smith, A. Z. P., Gallo Cassarino, T., … Lowe, R. (2020). Heat Decarbonisation Modelling Approaches in the UK: An Energy System Architecture Perspective. Energies , Vol. 13. https://doi.org/10.3390/en13081869
  • Solano-Rodríguez, B., Pye, S., Li, P.-H., Ekins, P., Manzano, O., & Vogt-Schilb, A. (2021). Implications of climate targets on oil production and fiscal revenues in Latin America and the Caribbean. Energy and Climate Change, 2, 100037. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egycc.2021.100037
  • Staffell, I., Scamman, D., Velazquez Abad, A., Balcombe, P., Dodds, P. E., Ekins, P., … Ward, K. R. (2019). The role of hydrogen and fuel cells in the global energy system. Energy & Environmental Science, 12(2), 463–491. https://doi.org/10.1039/C8EE01157E
  • Tomei, J., Cronin, J., Arias, H. D. A., Machado, S. C., Palacios, M. F. M., Ortiz, Y. M. T., … Anandarajah, G. (2020). Forgotten spaces: How reliability, affordability and engagement shape the outcomes of last-mile electrification in Chocó, Colombia. Energy Research & Social Science, 59, 101302. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2019.101302
  • Velazquez Abad, A., & Dodds, P. E. (2020). Green hydrogen characterisation initiatives: Definitions, standards, guarantees of origin, and challenges. Energy Policy, 138, 111300. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111300
  • Waisman, H., Bataille, C., Winkler, H., Jotzo, F., Shukla, P., Colombier, M., … Trollip, H. (2019). A pathway design framework for national low greenhouse gas emission development strategies. Nature Climate Change, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0442-8
  • Winning, M., Price, J., Ekins, P., Pye, S., Glynn, J., Watson, J., & McGlade, C. (2019). Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement and the costs of delayed action. Climate Policy, 19(8). https://doi.org/10.1080/14693062.2019.1615858
Nature journal papers

The Systems team has been very successful in disseminating its work in the high-profile Nature journals, read more: