Why energy models should integrate social and environmental factors

  • Energy models are used to inform and support decisions within the transition to climate neutrality. In recent years, such models have been criticised for being overly techno-centred and ignoring environmental and social factors of the energy transition. Here, we explore and illustrate the impact of ignoring such factors by comparing model results to model user needs and real-world observations. We firstly identify concrete user needs for better representation of environmental and social factors in energy modelling via interviews, a survey and a workshop. Secondly, we explore and illustrate the effects of omitting non-techno-economic factors in modelling by contrasting policy-targeted scenarios with reality in four EU case study examples. We show that by neglecting environmental and social factors, models risk generating overly optimistic and potentially misleading results, for example by suggesting transition speeds far exceeding any speeds observed, or pathways facing hard-to-overcome resource constraints. As such, modelled energyEnergy models are used to inform and support decisions within the transition to climate neutrality. In recent years, such models have been criticised for being overly techno-centred and ignoring environmental and social factors of the energy transition. Here, we explore and illustrate the impact of ignoring such factors by comparing model results to model user needs and real-world observations. We firstly identify concrete user needs for better representation of environmental and social factors in energy modelling via interviews, a survey and a workshop. Secondly, we explore and illustrate the effects of omitting non-techno-economic factors in modelling by contrasting policy-targeted scenarios with reality in four EU case study examples. We show that by neglecting environmental and social factors, models risk generating overly optimistic and potentially misleading results, for example by suggesting transition speeds far exceeding any speeds observed, or pathways facing hard-to-overcome resource constraints. As such, modelled energy transition pathways that ignore such factors may be neither desirable nor feasible from an environmental and social perspective, and scenarios may be irrelevant in practice. Finally, we discuss a sample of recent energy modelling innovations and call for continued and increased efforts for improved approaches that better represent environmental and social factors in energy modelling and increase the relevance of energy models for informing policymaking.show moreshow less

Export metadata

Additional Services

Search Google Scholar Statistics
Metadaten
Author details:Diana SüsserORCiD, Nick Martin, Vassilis StavrakasORCiD, Hannes Gaschnig, Laura Talens-Peiró, Alexandros FlamosORCiD, Cristina Madrid-López, Johan LilliestamORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2022.102775
ISSN:2214-6296
Title of parent work (English):Energy research & social science
Subtitle (English):assessing user needs, omission impacts, and real-word accuracy in the European Union
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publishing:Amsterdam
Publication type:Article
Language:English
Date of first publication:2022/01/20
Publication year:2022
Release date:2024/02/02
Tag:ecological crisis; energy modelling; energy planning; energy policy; environmental impacts; social acceptance
Volume:92
Number of pages:1
First page:102775
Last Page:102775
Organizational units:Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Sozialwissenschaften / Fachgruppe Politik- & Verwaltungswissenschaft
DDC classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 62 Ingenieurwissenschaften / 620 Ingenieurwissenschaften und zugeordnete Tätigkeiten
Peer review:Referiert
Publishing method:Open Access / Hybrid Open-Access
License (German):License LogoCC-BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International
Accept ✔
This website uses technically necessary session cookies. By continuing to use the website, you agree to this. You can find our privacy policy here.