Modeling the transition to a zero emission energy system: A cross-sectoral review of building, transportation, and electricity system models in Canada

Date

2023

Authors

McPherson, M.
Rhodes, E.
Stanislaw, L.
Arjmand, R.
Saffari, M.
Xu, R.
Hoicka, C.
Esfahlani, M.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Energy Reports

Abstract

Models have long been effective tools in the planning and policy making of energy systems, but low-carbon electrification—decarbonizing generation supply while expanding electrical demand—poses new challenges for the modeling community. At its core, electrification relies on integrating insights that span the supply and demand side of power systems, resolving operational characteristics and long-term climate change, and the integration of previously independent engineered systems. However, our modeling landscape consists of a suite of models that focus on distinct sectors (power, buildings, transport) and spatial–temporal scales (municipal, provincial, federal). This paper probes whether the existing suite of energy system models, which span sectors, disciplines, and jurisdictions, is up to the task of charting net-zero pathways, specifically in the Canadian context. To do so, we analyze an inventory of energy system models that are being used in practice using a recently assembled model database. Next, we supplement our analysis with a web-based search and literature review. For each model category, we describe the key modeling approaches, strengths and weaknesses, and typical ways and areas in which these models are applied. We find that by focusing on a specific scale and sector, these models by their very definition, omit out-of-scope interactions leaving critical information gaps. Many of the most imperative areas for future research straddle multiple sectors or multiple scales—electric vehicle charging, carbon policy coordination, regional electricity trading, to name a few. Future research should focus on identifying ways in which different models could be used together to produce policy-related conclusions that are as detailed but more holistic than conclusions that can be gleaned from an individual model.

Description

Keywords

Energy systems integration, Energy system modeling, Electrification, Decarbonization pathways

Citation

McPherson, M., Rhodes, E., Stanislaw, L., Arjmand, R., Saffari, M., Xu, R., Hoicka, C., & Esfahlani, M. (2023). Modeling the transition to a zero emission energy system: A cross-sectoral review of building, transportation, and electricity system models in Canada. Energy Reports, 9, 4380-4400. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.egyr.2023.02.090.