Years Active: 2009-2014


This project analysed energy system uncertainties such as those affecting oil prices, the viability of key technology classes (e.g. CCS), changing policies and/or consumer preferences etc. This was carried out using a range of modelling approaches including staged optimisation and stochastic hedging strategies the UK MARKAL model family, and analysis via probabilistic input models including the Anderson model as used in the Stern Review.

Further Information

The enhanced MARKAL model database (3.25) has been used in the successful development of a stochastic version of the model. This new variant has been used in a major underpinning project for the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) 4th budget assessment report. Further policy-modelling work has been done in collaboration with AEA to assist DECC in their assessment of the mid- and long-term decarbonisation pathways. In addition journal papers using stochastic MARKAL have been drafted/submitted for Climatic Change and Energy Policy.

To further understand the role of uncertainties across the UK energy system, a protocol has been developed and tested for a major expert elicitation process to derive key parameters and their associated uncertainties that form the interlinked inputs and outputs of energy models.

In 2009, the team developed a two-stage stochastic version of UK MARKAL. Two-stage stochastic programming optimises a near-term hedging strategy according to defined future states of the world. This allows a user to investigate the effect of future uncertainties on near-term action.

Key Outputs

  • Usher W. and N. Strachan (2013), A Bayesian network approach for conducting an uncertainty analysis, Environmental Modelling and Assessment.
  • Hughes N., R. Gross and N. Strachan (2012), The structure of uncertainty in future low carbon pathways, Energy Policy, 52: 45-54.
  • Usher W. and N. Strachan (2012), An expert elicitation of climate, energy and economic uncertainties, Energy Policy, 61: 811-821.
  • Usher W. and N. Strachan (2012), Critical mid-term uncertainties in long-term decarbonisation pathways, Energy Policy, 41: 433-444.
  • Strachan N. and W. Usher (2012), Failure to achieve stringent carbon reduction targets in a second-best policy world, Climatic Change, 113 (2): 121-139.
  • Usher W. and N. Strachan (2012) A Comparison of Key Energy Policy Uncertainties: Expert Beliefs versus Model Parameters, IEW2012, Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Usher W., Strachan N. (2010) UK MARKAL Modelling - Examining Decarbonisation Pathways in the 2020s on the Way to Meeting the 2050 Emissions Target, Report for the CCC 4th budget report, Committee on Climate Change.
  • Strachan N. and W. Usher (2010), Stochastic modelling of critical uncertainties in UK long-term decarbonisation pathways, BIEE, Oxford, September 2010.