Modelling potential pathways
To model the various scenarios, the researchers used Energy System Modelling Environment (ESME), a techno-economic whole system model, to conduct the analysis. This framework allowed them to analyse both the technical and economic performance of the various pathway options.
A particular perk of ESME is that the model is independent of sector interests and can subsequently identify cost-optimised decarbonisation pathways across the whole system. This allows the ESME model to assess the ‘best’ range of pathways from a decarbonisation perspective, without being influenced by any one sector.
Updates were made to the model in order to consider a Net Zero scenario (previously the model was used to assess an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, as per previous government commitments). These updates included the addition of speculative measures, such as more ambitious targets for biomass, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and larger reductions in livestock farming, to name a few.