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Impact of technology uncertainty on future low-carbon pathways in the UK

Fais, B; Keppo, I; Zeyringer, M; Usher, W; Daly, H; (2016) Impact of technology uncertainty on future low-carbon pathways in the UK. Energy Strategy Reviews , 13-14 pp. 154-168. 10.1016/j.esr.2016.09.005. Green open access

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Abstract

Energy and climate policy-making requires strong quantitative scientific evidence to devise robust and consistent long-term decarbonisation strategies. Energy system modelling can provide crucial insights into the inherent uncertainty in such strategies, which needs to be understood when designing appropriate policy measures. This study contributes to the growing research area of uncertainty analysis in energy system models. We combine consistent and realistic narratives on several technology dimensions with a global sensitivity analysis in a national, bottom-up, optimizing energy system model. This produces structured insights into the impact of low-carbon technology and resource availability on the long-term development of the UK energy system under ambitious decarbonisation pathways. We explore a variety of result metrics to present policy-relevant results in a useful and concise manner. The results provide valuable information on the variability of fuel and technology use across the uncertainty space (e.g. a strong variation in natural gas demand). We demonstrate the complementarities and substitutability of technologies (e.g. the dependency of hydrogen technologies on the availability of CCS). We highlight critical low-carbon options and hedging strategies (e.g. the early decarbonisation of the electricity sector or the stronger use of renewable sources as a hedging against failure in other technologies) and demonstrate timing and path dependencies (e.g. the importance of early decarbonisation action in the presence of multiple technology uncertainty). The results also show how the availability of a given technology can have wider impacts elsewhere in the energy system, thus complicating the management of a long-term energy transition.

Type: Article
Title: Impact of technology uncertainty on future low-carbon pathways in the UK
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.esr.2016.09.005
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.esr.2016.09.005
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Energy systems analysis; Sensitivity analysis; Uncertainty; Emission reduction; Low-carbon technologies
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Chemical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1536070
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