Whole Systems Energy Modelling Consortium (WholeSEM):

Energy models provide essential quantitative insights into the 21st Century challenges of decarbonisation, energy security and cost-effectiveness. Models provide the integrating language that assists energy policy makers to make improved decisions under conditions of pervasive uncertainty. Whole systems energy modelling also has a central role in helping industrial and wider stakeholders assess future energy technologies and infrastructures, and the potential role of societal and behavioural change.

The CRESS contribution is to the understanding and modelling of household energy demand.  There is an explanatory animation.

Despite this fundamental underpinning role, the UK has not had a national strategic energy modelling activity. Models have been developed on a fragmented, reactive and ad-hoc basis, with a critical shortfall in the continuity of funding to develop new models, retain human capacity, and link modelling frameworks in innovative ways to answer new research questions. The whole systems energy modelling (wholeSEM) consortium is explicitly designed to enable the UK to make an internationally leading research impact in this critical area, and hence to provide cutting-edge transparent quantitative analysis to underpin public and private energy systems decision making. Following a rigorous selection process, the wholeSEM consortium encapsulates leading and interdisciplinary UK capacity in quantitative whole systems energy research.

The key aims of the interdisciplinary wholeSEM consortium are to:

  1. Undertake internationally cutting edge research on prioritised energy system topics;
  2. Integrate whole energy systems modelling approaches across disciplinary boundaries;
  3. Build bilateral engagement mechanisms with the wider UK energy systems community in academia, government and industry.

The wholeSEM consortium will prioritise on key modelling areas of high relevance to interdisciplinary energy systems. Internationally leading research will focus on:

  1. How does energy demand co-evolve with changes in practice, supply, and policy?
  2. How will the endogenous, uncertain, and path dependent process of technological change impact future energy systems?
  3. How can the energy supply-demand system be optimised over multiple energy vectors and infrastructures?
  4. What are the major future physical and economic interactions and stresses between the energy system and the broader environment?

The consortium will employ extensive integration mechanisms to link and apply interdisciplinary models to key energy policy problems. This will take place across the conceptualisation and development of innovative modelling approaches, model construction, and through an integrated set of use-cases.

  • A key element of the wholeSEM is substantive bilateral engagement with stakeholders in academia, government and industry. Multi-layered integration mechanisms will include:
  • A high-profile advisory board, with key policy/industry representation plus wider academic experts;
  • An innovative fellowship programme to enable bi-directional UK academic, policy and industrial and international experts to work with wholeSEM research teams;
  • A range of workshops including four internationally high profile annual UK energy modelling conferences, technical workshops focused on key modelling issues, and non-technical stakeholder workshops on model conceptualisation, development and use-cases;
  • Detailed and transparent documentation for all of the consortium's new energy models;
  • Model access, based on collaborative agreements with an expert model user group. This will ensure best-use of models, accountability and two-way flows of information from/to model developers, users and critics;
  • Collation and curation of energy modelling data sources (building off and working with the UKERC Energy Data Centre);
  • Provision of training in modelling techniques and software platforms, to train and develop the next generation of energy systems modellers, including interactions with centres for doctoral training (CDTs);
  • Interactive web-based information dissemination.

The WholeSEM project is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), United Kingdom.

Project Consortium: University College London (lead), Cambridge, Imperial, and Surrey