Energy for mobility: exploring systemic change in a ‘net zero’ world

26 Jun 2019

Transport matters – and electrification will save the day, right?

The transport sector remains at the centre of any debates around energy conservation, exaggerated by the stubborn and overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels by its motorised forms, whether passenger and freight, road, rail, sea and air.

The very slow transition to alternative fuel sources to date has resulted in this sector being increasingly and convincingly held responsible for the likely failure of individual countries, including the UK, to meet their obligations under consecutive international climate change agreements.

Electrification of transport is largely expected to take us down the path to a ‘zero carbon future’ (CCC, 2019; DfT, 2018). But there are serious concerns about future technology performance, availability, costs and uptake by consumers and businesses. There are also concerns about the increasing gap between lab and ‘real world’ performance of energy use, carbon and air pollution emissions. Recently, the role of consumer ‘lifestyles’ has increased in prominence (e.g. IPCC, 2018) but, as yet, has not been taken seriously by the DfT, BEIS or even the CCC (2019).

Advancing our modelling capabilities

Societal energy consumption and pollutant emissions from transport are not only influenced by technical efficiency, mode choice and the pollutant content of energy, but also by lifestyle choices and socio-cultural factors. However, only a few attempts have been made to integrate all of these insights into systems models of future transport energy demand and supply (Creutzig et al., 2018) or narratives of low carbon transport futures (Creutzig, 2015).

Developed under the auspices of UKERC the Transport Energy Air pollution Model (TEAM) has been designed to address these concerns and uncertainties in exploring pertinent questions on the transition to a zero carbon and clean air transportation future.

TEAM is a strategic transport, energy, emissions and environmental impacts systems model, covering a range of transport-energy-environment issues from socio-economic and policy influences on energy demand reduction through to lifecycle carbon and local air pollutant emissions and external costs.

This publication provides a major update on the 2010 working paper on UKTCM. To use the model for research purposes, please contact Christian Brand. Due to its size (the complete suite of modelling databases uses about 500MB of storage space) the model can only be made available by request.

TEAM is built around exogenous and quantified scenarios, covering passenger and freight transport across all modes of transport (road, rail, shipping, air). It provides annual projections up to 2100, is technology rich with endogenous modelling of more than 1,200 vehicle technologies, and covers a wide range of output indicators, including travel demand, vehicle ownership and use, energy demand, life cycle emissions of 26 pollutants, environmental impacts, government tax revenues, and external costs.

Global relevance

The TEAM framework can be adapted to a range of geographical and administrative scales, from city to region, country and global scales. To date, two versions have been developed and used in policy analysis: a UK version, TEAM-UK; and a Scottish version, STEAM. Both were designed to explore alternative transport futures to meet UK and Scottish carbon mitigation, air quality and energy policy goals. Analysts and decision makers are able to systematically compare a wide range of scenarios and policies, including those focusing on travel behaviour and demand, vehicle ownership and use, fiscal, pricing, eco-driving, fuel obligations, speed limits, technology investment/procurement, ‘official’ vs ‘real world’ gaps, and zero or clean air zones.