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Role of technologies in an energy efficient economy – model-based analysis of policy measures and transformation pathways to a sustainable energy system

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - REEEM (Role of technologies in an energy efficient economy – model-based analysis of policy measures and transformation pathways to a sustainable energy system)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2019-07-31

The energy system may be considered as the backbone of our economy, providing services to consumers, powering our industries and providing jobs to maintain supply. Energy strategy development is a multi-dimensional challenge, affecting and affected by the economy, society and the environment. Effective policy making requires a consideration of the links across these issues. Yet, energy system strategies are often informed by relatively disconnected assessments of the energy system, the environment, or the economy. From an energy systems perspective, assessments hardly ever go beyond an integral consideration of greenhouse gas emissions.
In this context, REEEM aims to gain a clear and comprehensive understanding of the system-wide implications of energy strategies in support of transitions to a competitive low-carbon EU energy society, given the objectives and framework outlined in the Strategic Energy Technology Plan. In support of this overall aim, this project is developed to address four main objectives:
1. Developing an integrated assessment framework
2. Defining and assessing pathways and case studies
3. Creating a science-policy interface
4. Establishing Transparency
The integrated modelling framework provides numerous insights into the role of technologies in the European decarbonisation process and their social, economic and environmental impacts. The dissemination tools created within the project engage stakeholders at different levels of the society and present them in a transparent and straightforward way the possible consequences of decisions made in the energy sector.
During the first reporting period, resources were dedicated to obtaining three significant achievements:
• Creating a methodology for defining decarbonisation pathways, from literature review and in the interaction with stakeholders;
• Defining the key elements of the pathways;
• Carrying out a ‘pilot thought exercise’, which permitted to establish soft-links between the models and communication flows between the modelling teams.
During the second reporting period, further steps were taken on the following:
• A pathway tree was formulated, where the main branches are 3 EU transition pathways (Coalitions for a Low-carbon path, Local solutions and Paris Agreement), and the sub-branches are numerous pathways investigating specific aspects of the transition via exploratory approaches.
• Two roadmaps were created, describing the innovation potential in two groups of technologies key to the energy transition: storage and selected renewable energy technologies. The roadmaps were complemented by assessments of the Innovation Readiness Level of the technologies.
• Moving from the'pilot thought exercise', a large integrated modelling framework was created, where TIMES PanEU energy system model is linked to sector-specific modules
• The assessment carried out by the large modelling framework at the EU level was completed by several case studies with national and local focus
Finally, during the last reporting period, the following steps were taken:
• Carrying out a third technology assessment, on energy efficiency in buildings, and integrating it into the framework;
• Completing the integrated assessment of the impacts of decarbonisation on economy, environment and society and consolidating model-links (some in an iterative fashion);
• Finalising the narratives of the three pathways;
• Extracting cross-sectoral and cross-scale insights on deep decarbonisation from the results of the modelling activities and elaborating a research and policy agenda upon them;
• Communicating the insights through the open source engagement tools created within the project (like OSeMBE, the REEEMgame and the REEEMpathways);
• Consolidating the role of the Energy Modelling Platform for Europe as a large forum for exchange between researchers and the European Commission, culminating in yearly events co-organised by many EU-funded actions.
While a number of pathway exercises have been carried out in literature with several, well-established modelling tools, challenges still exist in 1) combining multi-sectoral aspects and 2) communicating the insights from the scientific production.
1) REEEM has brought and will increase the experience on the set-up and use of wide integrated modelling frameworks. A framework of more than 15 multi-sectoral modelling tools has been established and the major challenges in linking them have been addressed, marking a step forward in integrated modelling. On one side, a solid block of models carries out a multi-sectoral impact analysis of energy transition pathways at the EU level. The assessment goes beyond state of the art in that it includes aspects related to 1) the impact of consumers choices of final heating and transport technologies on the velocity of the transition. A survey-based highly granular study was linked to the TIMES PanEU energy system model, marking great advancement in the state of the art scientific knowledge; 2) the health impacts of energy-related emissions, with high spatial granularity; 3) key potential innovations in storage and renewable energy technologies, as assessed by EIT InnoEnergy with a wide network of industrial stakeholders; 4) impacts on a regional and sectoral scale (such as impacts of intensive use of biomass on ecosystem services). The final insights from the framework, especially those linked to the cross-sectoral risks and opportunities of decarbonisation, were communicated at scientific conferences, at the EMP-E, in high-level meetings with EC's DG Directors and in a final research and policy agenda.
2) Advanced and open source communication tools to close the gap between science, society and decision making have been created. The first fully open source EU28+2 Engagement Model was published, aiming to represent in a simplified yet comprehensive fashion the challenges of the energy transition and mirroring key dynamics of the entire modelling activity of REEEM. The model has been and will be used as research infrastructure by a large open modelling community and in national modelling activities. A serious Game has been published, which further exposes the key dynamics of the energy transition. Finally, the contextualisation of the entire REEEM effort within the large EU modelling landscape is made possible by the Energy Modelling Platform for Europe. Created by REEEM in 2017, it has turned into a large collaboration platform between LCE21 projects and others, with inputs by DGs of the European Commission, and culminating in an annual event. The REEEM Consortium dares to highlight that this event is bringing forward and unprecedented effort to join efforts, provide joint messages by R&I actions on the energy transition and highlight room for improvement in energy modelling research and funding.
REEEM related publications