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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R002096/1
Title: Modelling the Political, Societal and Regulatory Implementation of the UK Energy System Decarbonisation Transition
Principal Investigator: Strachan, Professor N
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Department: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 April 2017 Ends: 31 December 2017 Value (£): 59,966
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Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Mar 2017 Energy Systems Catapult Feasibility Studies Call Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Conventional equilibrium and optimisation energy systems modelling approaches have been extensively used over the last two decades to identify the timing and scale for the deployment of low, zero or even negative carbon energy technologies as the key element of deep decarbonisation pathways to stay within a 2C temperature target by 2100.

However, these approaches suffer from a set of major simplifications. First, the lack of more detailed analysis on the economic trade-offs of large scale decarbonisation (beyond a single optimal decision maker); second, a clear link to the political dynamics (including the institutional and regulatory requirements) of such a transition; and third, an understanding of the societal acceptability, drivers and learning of large-scale low carbon technology uptake.

To help fill these major omissions, the emerging field of socio-technical energy transitions (STET) is an innovative and exciting approach. The STET approach is characterised by multi-level governance, a range of economic, technological and social feedbacks, and by many decision makers.

Attempts to operationalise such a rich conceptual approach (for example via EPSRC's Realizing Transitions Pathways project) has taken an interdisciplinary and participatory stakeholder approach that brought together quantitative and qualitative contributions from research, policy, industry and wider society.

To make STET analysis relevant for the implementation of energy system trilemma goals, requires transparent, sophisticated and scalable modelling frameworks that are explicitly targeted to answer the actual questions that energy decision makers have.

Therefore this scoping proposal has two primary goals:

1. To apply formal STET modelling - on heterogeneous economic actors, necessary policy consistency, and societal acceptance - to large-scale low carbon technology deployment within an energy systems framework.

2. To embed this process within an interactive and bidirectional stakeholder engagement to ensure that STET modelling meets the requirements of diverse UK energy decision makers.

The main tool for this scoping study is the Behaviour, Lifestyles and Uncertainty Energy model (BLUE); a system dynamics model of the UK energy system that simulates energy use and emissions through time as an energy transition unfolds. The main stakeholder engagement will be a coordinated pair of expert workshops, allied to an iterative bidirectional project website to enable a decision theatre approach to STET model development and application.

This is an inherently interdisciplinary scoping project that will better define the 'real world' feasibility of large-scale decarbonisation technology from a range of economic, political, institutional, regulatory and societal perspectives. It will hence lay the groundwork for a full project of linking STET modelling with UK energy decision maker needs.

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