How Do Energy-Economy Models Compare? A Survey of Model Developers and Users in Canada




Rhodes, Ekaterina
Craig, Kira
Hoyle, Aaron
McPherson, Madeleine

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Governments at all levels rely on energy-economy models to design climate policy portfolios. Models vary in their purposes and methodologies, yet there is limited research comparing model characteristics and identifying models suitable for specific policy questions. We conduct a web-based survey of energy-economy model users and developers (n = 14) in Canada’s public, private, and non-profit sectors, to systematically compare seventeen models against the following characteristics: Technology representations, microeconomic and macroeconomic details, policy representations, treatment of uncertainty, high-resolution spatial and temporal representations, and data transparency. We find that for the most part, models represent technology, micro-, and macroeconomic characteristics according to the typology of bottom-up, top-down, and hybrid models. However, several modelling evolutions have emerged. To varying extents, top-down models can explicitly represent technologies and some bottom-up models incorporate microeconomic (non-financial) characteristics. We find that models differ in the types of policies they can simulate, sometimes underrepresenting performance regulations, government procurement, and research and development programs. All models use at least one method to explore uncertainty, rarely incorporate spatial and temporal representations, and most models lack publicly available methodological documentation. We discuss the implications of our comparative model analysis for climate policy projections and future research.



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


Rhodes, E., Craig, K., Hoyle, A., McPherson, M. (2021). How Do Energy-Economy Models Compare? A Survey of Model Developers and Users in Canada. Sustainability, 13(11), 1-39.