The TIMES model: A policy engagement case study

The Scottish Government has set very ambitious targets and policies in its Climate Change Plan to decarbonise the energy system. The Scottish TIMES model is as a key tool informing these new climate change policies.

In the Scottish context, TIMES is used to find the least cost energy system under the ambitious decarbonisation scenarios in Scotland. In other words, TIMES shows what the Scottish energy system could look like (the energy mix, technologies and required investments) if the decarbonisation targets for 2050 (set in the climate change plan) are to be achieved.

However, while TIMES is a highly regarded model used in many countries, it is important not to solely rely on a single model or a single analysis for complex policy assessment. CXC has been involved through the development of the Scottish TIMES and in engaging stakeholders in scrutinising and improving the model in order to deliver more reliable and effective energy efficiency policy:

  1. A CXC project delivered by researchers at Imperial College produced a set of evidence-based assumptions on the potential of the role of hydrogen in the energy system as an input to the modelling in Scottish TIMES. Scottish TIMES modelling underpinned the development of the draft Climate Change Plan. The report was directly used by officials developing the draft Plan and in briefing Cabinet about the potential future roles of various technologies.
  2. CXC delivered a model to represent the electrification of heat and electricity network capacity in Scotland. The model allows Scottish policymakers explore the potential impact of electrifying a proportion of heat demand. The model was designed to ‘soft-link’ to the Scottish TIMES model and, together with an accompanying report on electricity and heat demand in Scotland, has directly informed development of policies contained in the draft Climate Change Plan and Energy Strategy.
  3. Commissioned project on how the gas network could be used to introduce hydrogen for space and water heating in line with climate targets, creating input assumptions for Scottish TIMES.
  4. Research fellowship on ‘Energy systems impacts of energy efficiency’ exploring the impacts of energy efficiency changes linked to the Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP), which considers how TIMES and AMOS (the Scottish Computable Generalised Equilibrium model) may be used to provide additional insights on co-benefits of energy efficiency improvements. The postholder has produced an interim report of strengths and limitations of the Scottish TIMES in terms of analysing the energy system impacts of changes in efficiency including recommendations on how Scottish TIMES may be used in its current form with further developments, and/or alongside other modelling platforms.
  5. Secondment from OCEA on TIMES model development and opening the model up to academic scrutiny, based within the CXC secretariat.

Overall these projects exemplify the flexibility the CXC resource offers, and the ability the Centre has to respond to specific issues within a longer term policy support strategy.