Using the TIMES model in developing energy policy

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.

TIMES is a well-known, widely used model. However, the adequacy of TIMES for energy efficiency policy analysis has not been assessed in the literature. This report sets out the potential for using TIMES to understand the system impacts of energy efficiency improvements.

The main challenges identified in the specific context of using TIMES for energy efficiency analysis are:

  • Energy efficiency implementation in TIMES is not straightforward. Several approaches could be followed, delivering potentially different results.
  • Decisions are cost driven. The cost minimisation algorithm would lead to outcomes involving extreme specialisation (corner solutions), if not prevented by user determined constraints (e.g. imposing maximum shares for different technologies).
  • Energy demands and actions and reactions across the wider economy impacts are not modelled within TIMES. More generally, market “problems” and other drivers for consumer behaviour are not captured.

From a policy analysis perspective, TIMES is a very powerful tool that could be used to support decision making. Therefore, building on the model’s strengths, the report discusses possible TIMES uses and ways to go forward, grouped as:

  • using TIMES as it is;
  • developing TIMES improvements; and
  • soft-linking with other models.