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Whole Systems Energy Modelling Consortium (wholeSEM)

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Principal Investigator - Neil Strachan

The whole systems energy modelling consortium (wholeSEM) is a ground breaking multi-institution initiative to develop, integrate and apply state-of-the-art energy models. The consortium is led by University College London and consists of Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and the University of Surrey.

Energy models provide essential quantitative insights into these 21st Century challenges of decarbonisation, energy security, energy equity, and cost-effectiveness. Models provide the integrating language and framework that assists energy policy makers – focusing at different scales and time periods – to make improved decisions and trade-offs in conditions of pervasive uncertainty Whole systems energy modelling also has a central role in helping energy supply companies to make technical and economic decisions with regard to future energy technologies and infrastructure, as well as in the assessment of the potential role of societal and behavioural change.

wholeSEM will build and link energy models to provide a fundamental underpinning role for the UK’s national strategic energy modelling activity. The consortium will provide continuity of funding to develop new models, retain human capacity, and link modelling frameworks in innovative ways to answer new research questions

The consortium will employ extensive integration mechanisms to link and apply interdisciplinary models to key energy policy problems, with substantive bilateral engagement with stakeholders in academia, government and industry.

wholeSEM project structure

wholeSEM project structure

University College London:

Professor Neil Strachan

Dr Ilkka Keppo

University of Cambridge:

Dr Julian Allwood

Imperial College London:

Prof Nilay Shah

Prof Goran Strbac

University of Surrey:

Prof Nigel Gilbert

Centre Manager at University College London:

Liz Milner

Through the development of critical energy modelling capacity, the consortium will make a substantial and internationally leading research impact. Prioritising on key modelling areas of high relevance to energy systems, innovative interdisciplinary analyses will generate a range of new, forward looking insights. These research questions are:

1. How does energy demand co-evolve with changes in practice, supply, and policy?

2. How will the endogenous, uncertain, and path dependent process of technological change impact future energy systems?

3. How can the energy supply-demand system be optimised over multiple energy vectors and infrastructures?

4. What are the major future physical and economic interactions and stresses between the UK energy system and the broader environment?

The key aims of the interdisciplinary wholeSEM consortium are:

1. Undertake internationally cutting edge research on prioritised energy system topics;

2. Integrate whole energy systems modelling approaches across disciplinary boundaries;

3. Build bilateral engagement mechanisms with the wider UK energy systems community in academia, government and industry.

Comprehensive bi-directional collaboration with the full range of UK and international energy systems experts and stakeholders is a core goal of the wholeSEM project. Taken together, these activities will provide a unique hub for the rapidly growing UK energy modelling user group and network of stakeholders. The innovative set of integration mechanisms to be deployed, include:

· A high-profile Advisory Board – chaired by Prof Jim Skea – with existing key policy/industry representative plus a cross section of academic experts;

· An innovative bi-directional Fellowship Programme (12 Fellows over the 4-year project lifetime) to enable UK academic, policy and industrial and international experts to work with wholeSEM research teams;

· Four internationally high profile annual UK energy modelling conferences;

· Technical workshops focused on key modelling issues, for example: impact of the UK energy innovation system; spatial and temporal value of flexibility in energy supply and demand;

· Non-technical stakeholder workshops, to inform the conceptualisation and ongoing development of the consortium’s core modelling tools, and to define a coherent set of use-cases and scenarios;

· Collation and curation of energy modelling data sources;

· Detailed and transparent documentation for all of the consortium’s new energy models;

· Model access, based on collaborative agreements, to ensure best use of models, accountability and two-way flows of information from/to model developers, model users and model critics;

· Provision of training in modelling techniques and software platforms;

· To build the next generation of energy systems modellers through Masters level course materials and interactions with relevant centres for doctoral training (CDTs);

· Provision of responsive engagement, to regulators, government officials and the energy industry – to understand and assess analytical approaches to key energy issues;

· Traditional methods of academic dissemination including leading peer reviewed journals (open access where appropriate) and international conferences; and

· Interactive web-based information dissemination routes, including a detailed website, wikis to share and store detailed modelling discussions, and extensive use of web-based visual communications and webinars to share information.

wholeSEM website

Further information about the energy models used at the UCL Energy Institute: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/energy-models