As I have written many times, the MERCURY project will end on January 15, 2019. This means that I know very well what I will be doing in the next months. On the other hand, I have nothing planned after that date. It is true, though, that it is always good to study some options for the future, because the next months will likely pass quicker than expected 🙂
In this perspective, in the past months I started working on a project proposal. The call falls within the H2020 scheme funded by the European Union, and it is essentially one of the typical projects that I normally worked on in harness with other European research partners before starting my Marie Curie period. The title of the call is quite self-explaining, being “Modelling in support to the transition to a Low-Carbon Energy System in Europe”. At the bottom of this post, you can find the details of the call, if you wish to learn more.
In late 2017 the first contacts between the potential partners took place. In early 2018 the consortium was finally constituted, and in the past weeks the actual activities began. I have been working as co-leader of a work package dedicated to integrated scenarios, in collaboration with UCL (University College London). Obviously I do not add further details for confidentiality reasons: I will have the occasion to spend more words on this topic after the submission.
The deadline for the proposal is September 6, 2018. The final decision by the EU is expected by Spring 2019. In case of positive evaluation, the project would likely start around late 2019 / early 2020, and thus it would finish in late 2023 / early 2024, as it is supposed to last four years. As you can see, a very, very long time horizon from now! Well, for the moment let’s focus on the proposal, then we will see 🙂
LC-SC3-CC-2-2018: Modelling in support to the transition to a Low-Carbon Energy System in Europe
Specific Challenge: The energy system in Europe will follow a transition to a low-carbon future in accordance with the COP21 agreements and the European Union targets and objectives set for 2020, 2030 and 2050. Energy models that are currently used to plan, support and verify the energy policies at national and European level do not fully encompass and integrate all the new challenges posed by this transition, such as decentralisation and variability in electricity supply, the need for flexibility, short-and long-term market dynamics, integration of the energy systems, the deployment of innovative technologies and the interaction between increasing numbers of independently acting agents in liberalised markets. In addition, energy models do not always capture the determinants, barriers (including financing-related issues) and (macroeconomic) impacts of the necessary investments to secure the low-carbon transition.
Civil society is looking for improved access to the assumptions, tools and results underlying the assessment of policy options. Researchers are also looking for enhanced possibilities for open collaborative research and the use of open data sources. An enhanced transparency of modelling tools and a wider availability of data used and generated by the modelling exercises would improve access and understanding of the challenges ahead. In addition, Europe needs to continuously promote networks and platforms for dialogues on energy modelling across relevant actors and institutions in order to progress the scientific knowledge in the field and to reinforce the interaction between researchers and policy makers.
The challenge is therefore to develop new knowledge on energy system modelling to set up an open space for researchers at national and European levels to collaboratively innovate and progress in using modelling tools to understand and predict the requirements of the transition towards a low-carbon energy system. The aim is to support the development of effective and efficient policy measures, to increase consistency and comparability of modelling practices and their use in defining low-carbon transition pathways at regional, national and European level.
Scope: Proposals must target the development of a suite of modelling tools and scenario building exercises that will contribute to a better understanding of the issues below. Proposals will address all of the following issues:
1. A better representation of recent and future aspects of the European energy system in transition. For power generation, it includes aspects such as decentralisation, variability, the need for flexibility, and real market functioning. For demand, it includes the behaviour of individuals and communities of actors. It should also help address issues such as the integration of energy sectors (electricity, heating/cooling and gas).
2. Greater transparency and access to assumptions, data, model outputs and to tools used in modelling exercises. A collaborative environment for research on modelling, scenario and pathways development including ex-post validation and inter-comparison exercises should be proposed. Interaction with energy transition modelling activities in member states and with energy and climate policy makers.
3. A better representation of the investment determinants, barriers (energy market and regulatory failures) and impacts of actors: individuals, communities, private and public actors and cover the deployment of innovative technologies. This should help represent policy measures that address barriers and market failures. The exploration of energy and macroeconomic relationships, including via the investment channels, would also create a clearer understanding of macro-economic impacts of the low-carbon transition.
The organisation of an annual conference on energy modelling, bringing together the relevant experts and policy-makers, would be an important asset.
The Commission considers the proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between 4 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Expected Impact: The supported projects are expected to contribute to:
a. A better adequacy of energy system modelling approaches to model the transition to a low-carbon energy system and to encompass the new challenges posed by the energy transition driven by the Energy Union with its targets and objectives for 2020, 2030 and 2050;
b. Improve the understanding of energy systems by enhancing the transparency of modelling engines and practices and making data and knowledge more widely available. Increase the sharing of modelling infrastructures and databases:
c. Increase openness to collaborative research on energy system modelling as well as the provision of more complete information on policy options and their assessment to civil society and decision-makers.
d. Better representation of the determinants, barriers and impacts of investments by actors: individuals, communities, and private and public actors. Allow better design and representation of policy measures that address barriers and market failures;
e. Promote a coherence of modelling practices at regional, national and European levels, allowing an assessment of cross-border effects and the comparison and integration of individual approaches;
f. Provide a clearer understanding of the macro-economic impacts of the low-carbon transition.