Understanding energy-economy models: survey evidence from model users and developers in Canada




Craig, Kira

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Energy-economy models are important tools used by policy-makers and researchers to design effective climate policy. However, there has been limited research that compares models against consistent characteristics to understand their impacts on climate policy projections. This can make it difficult for policy-makers to identify suitable models for their specific policy questions and develop effective climate policies. A web-based survey of energy-economy model users and developers in Canada’s public, private, and non-profit sectors (n=14) was conducted to systematically compare seventeen models against a framework of seven characteristics: technology characteristics, micro-, and macro-economic characteristics, policy representations, treatment of uncertainty, high-resolution spatial and temporal representations, and data transparency. It was found that for the most part, models represent technology, micro-, and macro-economic characteristics according to the classic typology of bottom-up, top-down, and hybrid models. However, our findings show that several modelling evolutions have occurred. Some top-down models can explicitly represent technologies and some bottom-up models incorporate microeconomic characteristics. Models differ in the types of policies they can simulate, sometimes underrepresenting performance regulations, government procurement, and research and development programs. All models incorporate at least one type of uncertainty analysis, models infrequently have high-resolution spatial and/or temporal representations, and most models lack publicly accessible methodological documents. Implications for researchers and policy-makers that use energy-economy models and/or develop policies are discussed.



energy-economy model, climate policy projections, model assessment characteristics, survey, model users, model developers