Energy Transition Model

The government has, in line with the Paris Agreement (2015), set targets to achieve, over time, a fully CO2-neutral energy supply. Significant efforts need to be undertaken in many areas if we are to see real progress. For not all measures or choices are equally cost-effective nor do they have the same effect on CO2 emissions. And some choices seem to be illogical – using more natural gas, a fossil fuel, to reduce emissions is met with incredulity by some groups. Can that be right?

In order to remove subjective connotations from the answers to such questions and to produce transparent calculations of the consequences of climate policy, in both an economic and ecological sense, Amsterdam research firm Quintel Intelligence, supported by GasTerra, started to develop the Energy Transition Model (ETM) ten years ago. One area for which this open-source model is suitable is education; however the focus is on other target groups such as (local) policy makers, advisors, strategy departments within large companies and anyone who is interested in or affected by the energy transition and the role of energy saving and the different energy carriers and sources within that.

Setting goals

The ETM is a system model in which the effects of changes in energy demand and supply can be explored interactively. The model user can take the government's place, as it were, and set targets for designing the future energy system. By then making changes to demand, supply, costs and other aspects that may vary in the future, how much (and to what extent) these targets are achieved becomes apparent whilst engaging in the game. This may relate to the effects of specific measures such as using large-scale wind farms or installing (hybrid) heat pumps. But users can also see the effects of changing demands for energy, resulting from economic factors, increasing energy-efficiency, technology developments etc. The energy transition model is available free of charge via a web interface for countries, provinces, regions, municipalities, districts and neighbourhoods.

Different versions

There are different versions of the ETM. The standard interface is the most comprehensive and intended for research, consultancy work, strategic reviews and higher education. There is also a simplified Energy Game, which covers the model's main themes. Quintel and GasTerra recently added a quiz to this with questions on the effectiveness of various climate measures, the Mobile Game, which can be played on either a PC or Mac and on any smartphone or tablet. Finally, educational materials have been developed; these are beneficial for teachers or lecturers in secondary and higher education.

Four scenarios

In four scenarios for the years 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050, GasTerra presents its vision of changes in the energy demand, energy costs and the supply and usage of both renewable energy sources and fossil fuels. The interactive tool is used to seek a favourable balance between government objectives and social and economic conditions. The scenarios are loaded onto the website of the energy transition model as reference or 'start' scenarios.

Increasingly wider commitment

Over the last few years, the model has been used in more and more locations, such as during energy conferences, public debates, television programmes and whilst preparing energy and climate policies. The ETM is also being used increasingly by consultancy firms and (local) governments in order to calculate sustainability targets in districts, municipalities and provinces.