Thursday, July 29, 2010

2050 Calculator Tool at DECC

I'm delighted to report that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has published the 2050 Pathways Analysis, which illustrates six possible energy pathways to achieve secure and affordable energy supplies in the UK while still hitting the 2050 target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent on 1990 levels.
These pathways were constructed with the engineering-based 2050 Calculator, which is now available as an online tool, and as a monster-spreadsheet that you can download, play with, and improve.
The Department is encouraging people to enhance this open-source tool, ideally before October 2010, so that it can in due course be used to engage civil servants, politicians, and the general public in 'grown-up' conversations, as Chris Huhne puts it.
The tool allows the user to explore the consequences - in terms of security-of-supply indicators and greenhouse gas emissions - of any combination of demand-side choices and supply-side choices. The intention of this 'play Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change' approach is not to imply that the energy system could or should be centrally planned, but to help people understand the range of possibilities that are open to us; the trade-offs; the common themes shared by energy pathways that add up; and the scale of action required.
Here's one journalist's reaction to the tool [Independent]. And the Guardian. To understand what's going on behind the simplified front-end, please read the 2050 document and dive into the monster spreadsheet.
I'd like to praise James Geddes and Tom Counsell for their outstanding work in producing this tool, along with Jonathan Brearley, Graeme Cuthbert, Jan Kiso, Katherine Randall, Clare Maltby, and the whole 2050 team at DECC.


rms said...

Prof MacKay,

Thanks for this. This is an important tool for the leaders and people of the UK. I look forward to running experiments with it and digging in behind the scenes on how the model works and is setup.

FYI, we have been try to get in touch for weeks via your staff to invite you to be a speaker at the upcoming season of the Scottish Oil Club ( Sadly, we were unable to get any reaction from your staff with our emails and phone calls. Speaking on this sort of topic was what we were looking. Our target date of Nov 11 is now filled by someone else; but if you have interest in speaking or perhaps joining us at the Annual Dinner, please get in touch soonest (via web site "contact us" button). Thanks.

DanH said...

Nice idea.

A few pointers

- The site shows electrification of home heating as a saver of carbon emissions, even when grid electricity isn't decarbonized very much. This is presumably only true for "clever" electric heating like a heat pump, but the site doesn't make this very clear. I fear it might encourage people to switch their domestic heating from natural gas to Ohmic resistors.

- The site apologizes for allowing simultaneous high levels of solar thermal and solar PV, on the grounds that this is implausible because they compete for roof space. But the efficiency of PVs decreases with increasing temperature (p. 45 of SEWTHA). Couldn't they benefit from being fitted with a cooling system whose waste heat could then provide solar thermal?

- The server refuses to provide the calculator tool if the client doesn't let it set cookies. Is this really necessary?

Unknown said...

I'm very pleased that this is up!

Haven't had much of a chance to play with it yet, but that's what dark and cold winter evenings are *for*, yes? B^>



Thor Russell said...

Well done!
I am surprised to be the first one to comment here, I hope your tool becomes widely used, quoted and influences they way people think for a long time to come.
Keep up the good work.