How energy saving fits into government’s modelling of UK energy system

CSE report for DECC

13 August 2014

CSE recently completed a detailed analysis of the way in which “D3” energy measures (demand reduction, demand shifting, and distributed energy) are represented in the various models of the UK energy system used by the Government.

The research involved face to face interviews with analysts from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as well as source code reviews of a number of models, and provided a fascinating insight into the way in which the department models the energy system and its policy interventions.

We found that DECC uses a large number of models to represent different aspects of the energy system, and the effects of different policies. These models are in general well designed for their original purposes; however the complex interactions which characterise some D3 interventions (think district heating, embedded power generation, time-of-use tariffs) are inherently difficult to model, and are likely to require new approaches.

While this includes specific opportunities to reuse existing models by combining them to address specific problems, there is also a need for improved representations of some D3 measures, such as district heating.

Our report has added to DECC’s understanding of the suite of models it uses and the ways in which they currently interact. It has also highlighted some opportunities for improving its management of models in general, and its representation of D3 interventions in particular.

Josh Thumim, CSE's Head of Research & Analysis and one of the authors of the report, said

"This work, which demonstrates CSE’s expertise in both software engineering and policy analysis, will support DECC as it continues to improve and develop its modelling in the critical processes of policy development and evaluation

"Our recommendations include proposals for integrating certain existing models to extend their functionality, for developing new models where we identified gaps, and for increasing the systematic management of the population of models in use at DECC."

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