Modelling system integration, path dependencies, and resource constraints


The major strength of IAMs is that they consider the energy‐economy‐climate system from an integrated perspective. While the energy supply side is usually the most detailed part of an IAM, there are a number of potential bottlenecks to the transition to low carbon energy systems that are not fully represented in IAMs and that have yet to be explored in depth.

Key questions raised

  • What are the main implications and challenges  of integrating an increasing share of variable renewable energies (VRE) into power systems, and how can IAMs best represent them?
  • What is the energy system’s demand for scarce resources under reference and climate policy scenarios, and could limited supply of key resources inhibit the transformation to low-carbon energy systems?
  • What is the energy system‘s water demand in reference and climate policy scenarios? Will the energy system transformation lead to increasing competition for water, especially when considering bioenergy deployment?
  • To what degree do infrastructure path-dependencies and network externalities influence energy system transformations, and which infrastructure dynamics need to be represented in IAMs?

Results achieved

ADVANCE analysed potential energy supply-side bottlenecks and challenges for a low-carbon energy system transformation, and improved their representation in the models. This improved validity and robustness of mitigation scenarios, and also allowed them to be evaluated against additional sustainability criteria.