UCL Energy Institute


Understanding energy futures for the UK and for Scotland


Principal investigator: Paul Ekins
Duration of project: 2007-2012
Sponsor: EPSRC

UCL is coordinating a team of academics across the UK to examine various scenarios of renewable energy development, and their interaction with hydrogen energy and energy networks. The work consists of three main subject areas:

1. Innovation. In this work package, UCL is working with a team in Cambridge to investigate trade-offs in energy innovation policy: should we invest in a few of the most promising technologies? Or should we spread our effort across a more diverse portfolio of options? This is being studied using a model of the energy system that incorporates learning-by-doing. The work package is also exploring historical patterns of innovation in electricity systems, as a case study to inform our understanding of possible system evolution.

2. Energy system scenarios. This work package is examining possible energy system futures in the UK, using energy systems models, In this work package, a new two-region MARKAL model has been developed, which enables explicit representation of Scotland. This is being used to explore the least-cost options for meeting UK and Scottish carbon and renewable energy targets. UCL is working with teams in Strathclyde, to examine the network and transmission implications of these scenarios, and their macroeconomic implications for Scotland.

3. Public and regional stakeholder perceptions. This work package, led by the Universities of Manchester and Salford, is exploring public and regional stakeholder perceptions of various sustainable energy technologies and policies, including renewable energy and hydrogen.


The UKSHEC Plus project has enabled the development of a new, two-region MARKAL model that represents Scotland explicitly for the first time. This model has been used to examine a range of energy and climate policy scenarios. Initial results have been presented at conferences, and are currently being developed into journal articles. A final report will integrate the MARKAL work with outputs from collaborating institutions.

Anandarajah and McDowall (under review) What are the costs of Scotland’s climate change and renewable energy policies? Manuscript submitted to Energy Policy.

McDowall, Ekins, Radosevic and Zhang (in press) The development of wind power in China, Europe and the US: how have policies and innovation system activities co-evolved? Technology Analysis and Strategic Management.

Hughes (2008) The role of public policy and its relation to private sector investment in driving innovation for a low carbon UK electricity system - a historical perspective. Paper for 2008 Conference of the British Institute of Energy Economics.

In addition to outputs from UCL, which is the coordinator of the project, a series of working papers, journal papers and models has been produced by collaborating institutions.


The UKSHEC Plus project is enabling new insights for policy-makers in both the UK and Scottish governments. The development of a two-region MARKAL model allows detailed energy system modelling of energy policy choices for Scotland, showing the possible implications of Scotland’s energy and climate policy targets. This is being augmented with analysis of the transmission network improvements that will be necessary to enable decarbonisation of the UK’s energy system, and the macroeconomic implications for Scotland of various energy scenarios. In light of this high degree of policy-relevance, the project will hold a stakeholder engagement session with Scottish policymakers in April 2012.