Years Active: 2004-2009

Modelling quantifies and provides insights into UK and international energy policies, and dominates the international debate on the costs of climate change mitigation. The primary goal of the Energy Systems and Modelling (ESM) theme was to bring together the best modelling expertise in the UK and integrate it into a world-class research effort.

This theme was led by Professor Paul Ekins, currently Professor of Energy and Environment Policy at University College London (UCL).

Research Activity

This research theme, run by King's College London (KCL) and the University of Cambridge's 4CMR (Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research) in the latter part of UKERC Phase I, sought to integrate previous work into a whole-systems approach, which we termed energy-environment-engineering-economy ("E4") modelling.  

In the first three years of UKERC Phase I, the ESM theme established a comprehensive UK E4 modelling capability. Full and updated working versions of major UK modelling tools were developed, notably the technology focused energy systems MARKAL, MARKAL Elastic Demand (MED) and MARKAL-Macro models, and the macro-economic MDM-E3 model.

These models were used to address a range of UK energy policy issues including long-term carbon reductions, the role of innovation in the future energy system, the development of hydrogen infrastructures, and the uptake of energy efficiency technologies and measures.

The ESM theme also started to combine "bottom-up" and "top-down" methods in a hybrid modelling approach. Complementary research focused on the analytical underpinnings of future energy scenarios, the role of innovation, and the systematic treatment of uncertainty.

KCL and 4CMR researchers provided key inputs to major UK and international energy reports and policy processes. These included:

In addition, ESM theme members played a central role in the UKERC 2050 project, which aimed to show how the UK could move towards a resilient low-carbon energy system over the next forty years. Under the UKERC Energy 2050 project, the MDM-E3 and MARKAL Elastic Demand (MED) models were utilised to quantify a range of long-term energy scenarios of climate mitigation and energy security. 

Key Outputs

All the working papers and research reports produced by this theme can be found in the UKERC Publications Library.