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Guiding European Policy toward a low-carbon economy. Modelling Energy system Development under Environmental And Socioeconomic constraints

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MEDEAS (Guiding European Policy toward a low-carbon economy. Modelling Energy system Development under Environmental And Socioeconomic constraints)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

The transition to a low carbon economy needs to achieve multiple aims: competitiveness, protection of the environment, creation of quality jobs, and social welfare. Thus policy-makers and other key stakeholders require tools that need to focus beyond the energy sector by including these other domains of economy, society and the environment. Currently, most available tools lack integration of these important areas despite being tightly connected to the energy sector. Moreover, current energy modelling tools often lack documentation, transparency and have been developed for a specialized insider audience, which makes validation and comparison of results as well as independent review impossible.

The overall aim of the project has widely been achieved through the different project activities and outcomes. Such aim was to close the gap between policymakers, stakeholders and stat-of-the-art simulation methods to help them better understand different options and pathways in the low carbon transition in Europe. Thus, the project provided a new integrative simulation tool totally open source and transparent, abundant dissemination activities/outcomes, technical and scientific material, and policy guidelines, which help to link policies, stakeholders’ interests and modelling approaches in the pathways to a carbon neutral society through the energy transition to Renewable Energy Sources (RES).
The work carried out in all the project duration has involved:
1) Identify key physical variables and parameters. It started at the beginning of the project with Workpackage 2 results, and has been improved until the end, where new scenarios and model capabilities allowed a more in deep analysis of variables. The methodology started with a first approach of extracting the necessary information from previous studies and modelling works. These studies have been complemented with the scenarios design and hypotheses used to define them. In parallel, models have been implemented and compared with other pre-existing tools/models. All this work conducts finally to the definition of necessary cross-model comparison parameter/variable values to frame the model results in a valid range compared with the state-of-the art models and knowledge. Producing thus a novel and very useful tool (pymedeas) to perform energy transition analysis based on biophysical limits and climate change impacts on the socio-economy.
2) Highlight emerging challenges for the implementation of a transition to a low-carbon economy. The results of the project show how important is the evolution of the desired economic activity. Its impacts on the transition are twofold: first the GDP evolution is strongly linked to GHG emissions, secondly, the renewable transition needs to be fuelled by fossil fuels (at least in his initial stages) so the pathway to reach the transition is key to achieve the final aim in 2050 with minimum socio-economic damages. Thus, the pace of the transition, particularly concerning the rate of RES deployment, the energy carrier shift (fuel shift) and evolution of the energy intensities have capital importance in the simulations on the GHG emissions. Another important factor is the new technologies role in the transition, so they need to be supported strongly to be ready as soon as possible to enhance the transition.
3) Suggest strategies to face such challenges when drafting the roadmap to a European future socio-economic transition to a sustainable energy system. This has been achieved through the White Book of policy guidelines and also with the analysis conducted in Workpackage 6 and Workpackage 7. The MEDEAS White Book highlights the relevance of the issues addressed in the areas of electricity grid upgrade, transport electrification, the role of natural gas, energy efficiency, energy costs, financing cross-border energy infrastructure, price regulation, raw materials and re-cycling, environmental impacts, social and behavioural adaptations, economic development and climate change adaptation. On this basis, MEDEAS makes policy recommendations which are in line with many EU strategies, visions and goals, in particular the “Clean Planet For All Strategy” and “EU Green Deal”.
The overall impacts of the project can be split in three points:

1. Widening and expanding the Open access, open source and transparency at all the levels of the technical and scientific work (from model to databases, from scientific publications to general public access to the project outcomes).
2. Analysis of biophysical limits and constraints-limitations of the renewable transition. Here we have explored a way that goes further than classical economic visions (usually cornucopian) to deeply analyse the impact of decommissioning the fossil fuel-based energy sources and infrastructure and by evaluating impacts and rates/time schedules to do it. To this end quantification and sensitivity analysis (uncertainty evaluation) of the model have also been conducted to provide robust results which can support the analysis on challenges and strategies. Particularly important have been the analysis on energy and materials required for the transition and the impacts of the transition on GHG emissions and environmental impacts.
3. From science to policies, from theory to actions. In the project we have emphasised the exploitation-dissemination-outreach together with the effort to produce policy recommendations for the energy transition. The main outcome of such work is the White Book of policy recommendations. Moreover, White Book has been accompanied with dedicated activities to spread and disseminate the findings of the project, as well as to ease the use of the models we have implemented and to explain the scenarios under which we have run the model simulations.

Summarizing, MEDEAS has provided new tools for designing transition guidelines and policy advice based on biophysical limits approaches. To this end, costs and benefits evaluation through the quantification of energy and materials needs for each scenario chosen have been assessed. The quantification of resources and the role of new technologies in pathways to a more circular economy have been evaluated by means of the analysis of recycling and reusing rates in each scenario. The use of scenarios has been key to frame the project simulations. Models, scenarios and policy recommendations are main project outcomes, which help to provide approaches to deal with the future challenges of the energy transition.

The results of the project have been disseminated through different activities: Newsletters, webpage news, board of stakeholders and stakeholders’ meetings and dissemination through media. The impact among the network has been enhanced by MEDEAS page in Facebook, Twiter, Research Gate and Linkedin project accounts. Finally, the project has had high impact in the media by the dedication of MEDEAS mentions on Catalan TV (TV3) of programs and high audience (400,000) news primetime.
MEDEAS final brochure
MEDEAS model modules and links between them.