Comparing energy system optimization models and integrated assessment models: Relevance for energy policy advice

Henke, H., Dekker, M., Lombardi, F., Pietzcker, R., Fragkos, P., Zakeri, B. ORCID:, Rodrigues, R., Sitarz, J., et al. (2024). Comparing energy system optimization models and integrated assessment models: Relevance for energy policy advice. Open Research Europe 3 p. 69. 10.12688/openreseurope.15590.2. (In Press)

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Project: European Climate and Energy Modelling Forum (ECEMF, H2020 101022622)


Background: The transition to a climate neutral society such as that envisaged in the European Union Green Deal requires careful and comprehensive planning. Integrated assessment models (IAMs) and energy system optimisation models (ESOMs) are both commonly used for policy advice and in the process of policy design. In Europe, a vast landscape of these models has emerged and both kinds of models have been part of numerous model comparison and model linking exercises. However, IAMs and ESOMs have rarely been compared or linked with one another.

Methods: This study conducts an explorative comparison and identifies possible flows of information between 11 of the integrated assessment and energy system models in the European Climate and Energy Modelling Forum. The study identifies and compares regional aggregations and commonly reported variables. We define harmonised regions and a subset of shared result variables that enable the comparison of scenario results across the models.

Results: The results highlight how power generation and demand development are related and driven by regional and sectoral drivers. They also show that demand developments like for hydrogen can be linked with power generation potentials such as onshore wind power. Lastly, the results show that the role of nuclear power is related to the availability of wind resources.

Conclusions: This comparison and analysis of modelling results across model type boundaries provides modellers and policymakers with a better understanding of how to interpret both IAM and ESOM results. It also highlights the need for community standards for region definitions and information about reported variables to facilitate future comparisons of this kind. The comparison shows that regional aggregations might conceal differences within regions that are potentially of interest for national policy makers thereby indicating a need for national-level analysis.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Climate change mitigation; Net-zero scenario analysis; Renewable energy transition; open-source; power system
Research Programs: Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Integrated Assessment and Climate Change (IACC)
Energy, Climate, and Environment (ECE) > Sustainable Service Systems (S3)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2024 07:31
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2024 07:31

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