From technology pathways to policy roadmaps to enabling measures


At present, there are very few studies dealing with the integration of transport focused models and broader energy systems models with the aim of achieving the policy roadmaps that have been already developed, such as the European Commission’s ‘Energy Roadmap to 2050’ and the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) ‘Energy Technology Perspectives’. To this end, integrating a range of complementary energy models is therefore becoming an increasingly common method for informing low carbon energy pathways at both national and global levels. Moreover, multi-modeling approaches have been confirmed to facilitate improved comprehension of the detailed technology pathways required to meet de-carbonization targets. Unfortunately, to-date, there has been limited attention on the policy roadmaps and enabling measures that might achieve these de-carbonization targets.

To this note, a team of researchers from the Energy Policy and Modelling Group, MaREI Centre, Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork in Ireland: Eamonn Mulholland (PhD Candidate), Dr Fionn Rogan and Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir developed a multi-model approach using an energy systems optimization model. To achieve this, a sectoral simulation model together with scrutiny of individual policy measures to explore de-carbonization of the private car sector in the Irish transport system was seen necessary to check if it was on track to commensurate with an 80% reduction in national carbon emissions by 2050. Their work is currently published in the research journal, Energy.

The research team commenced their studies by combining three different aspects in a coherent consistent iterative framework in order to explore the interactions, the development from one to another and to highlight the need for further analysis on the effectiveness, certainty, and timing of specific measures. To achieve this, the research team choose to adopt a multi-model approach by integrating several energy models where they employed a soft-linking methodology between a least-cost optimization model of the Irish energy system and a sectoral simulation model of the private transport sector in Ireland.

The authors observed that for the short-term scenario, by increasing the imposed mandatory bio-fuel blending obligations to 10.13% private car emissions would be stabilized out to the year 2025. Secondly, for the medium term scenario, improvements in the private car manufacture would help achieve the 4.5% carbon emission by the year 2050. Eventually, for the long term predicament, the researchers noted that the effects of introduction of pure electric automobile would offset the currently high carbon emissions, although still the effectiveness of such measures were subject to a high degree of uncertainty.

The University College Cork researchers has shown that their policy analysis with simulation models and ex-post analyses of similar policies are useful ways that can help in establishing and lifting the uncertainties about new technology diffusion. It is now clear that although there still might be uncertainties surrounding the direct effect that one policy measure may have on new technology market share, the methodology here has presented the potential effect of a group of policy measures, providing an interface capable of disaggregating these policy packages with further research into consumer behavior.


Mulholland, F. Rogan, B.P. O Gallachoir. From technology pathways to policy roadmaps to enabling measures – A multi-model approach. Energy 138 (2017) 1030-1041

Go To Energy 138

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