The UK Government has set in place ambitious policies (CCC, 2008) to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs), with the Climate Change Bill mandating a 34% emissions reduction by 2020 and an 80% emissions reduction by 2050 (from 1990 levels). This profound restructuring of the energy economy must also meet other core UK energy policy goals, notably secure, robust and affordable energy supply (DECC, 2009).
Energy models provide essential quantitative insights into these 21st Century challenges of decarbonisation, energy security and cost-effectiveness. Models provide the integrating language and framework that assists energy policy makers – focusing at different scales and time periods – to make improved decisions and trade-offs in conditions of pervasive uncertainty
Despite this fundamental underpinning role, the UK has not had a national strategic energy modelling activity. Models and systems analyses are developed on a fragmented, reactive and adhoc basis, with a critical shortfall in the continuity of funding to develop new models, retain human capacity, and link modelling frameworks in innovative ways to answer new research questions (Strachan 2011). Recognising this, the Energy Strategic Advisory Committee, RCUK Research Forum and the RCUK International Review of Energy all recommended that the area of whole systems energy research required growth in research capacity and better coordination for increased policy impact and support for technology development.