Review of the Scottish TIMES energy system model

The Scottish TIMES energy system model is built using the TIMES platform, a modelling tool which is developed by an International Energy Agency (IEA) technology collaboration programme and used in 63 countries. It contains a detailed and up-to-date depiction of all Scottish energy flows and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and explores the potential future benefits of a wide range of low-carbon fuels and technologies.

The Scottish TIMES model has provided evidence to inform Scottish Government climate policy in recent years. This report presents the findings of a technical review of the Scottish TIMES model. This involved considering model inputs and a number of diagnostic tests based on running the model with a test scenario. The review does not extend to considering whether the model has been used appropriately to support Scottish Government climate policy.

Summary conclusions

Review of model inputs

  • The Scottish TIMES team has put considerable time into developing the model and keeping the data up-to-date.
  • The team operates good quality assurance processes..
  • A number of issues should be investigated further. These include the need for a reassessment of model boundary conditions, particularly for the GB electricity system, and some technology assumptions could be updated.

Outcome of the diagnostic tests

  • The diagnostic tests identified a number of minor model data issues to investigate. 
  • The GHG emission accounting system (i.e. how GHGs are counted across the economy) could be more robust.
  • Overall, it is clear Scottish TIMES is a solid, well-designed model suitable for informing Scottish climate policy if used appropriately.

Potential model development

The model could:

  • Have improved GHG emissions accounting.
  • Provide more value through a wider range of uses, for example by exploring future uncertainty.
  • Be used more efficiently if a system were developed to produce the output data and analyses that stakeholders require.
  • For the model to continue contributing high-quality evidence to inform Scottish policy, there is a need to ensure that there is sufficient technical modelling capacity within the Scottish Government.