Dr Jan Nill
Dr Jan Nill works at the European Commission, Directorate-General Climate Action. He has been responsible for climate policy-related EU energy modelling from 2009 to 2016. Currently he works as policy officer in the unit CLIMA C.2 Governance & Effort Sharing, mainly on the Effort Sharing Regulation Proposal on binding annual emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 and the monitoring of energy and greenhouse gas projections. Jan holds a PhD in economics from the University of Kassel.
Policy-makers need up to date information, meaningful figures and analysis on the impact of policy measures. Energy systems modelling can provide them with all of this. This is my experience as a European Commission policy-maker who has used energy system modelling for seven years. At least three modelling challenges remain: energy market changes, model combinations and transparency.
Up to date information: Energy system modelling needs to be based on the latest trends and, unlike macro modelling, it has the opportunity to be informed by recent data. An example is the EU Reference Scenario 2016 (see Canton et al.), which projects energy, transport and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission trends to 2050.
Meaningful figures: Minus 40% in 2030, 60% in 2040 and 80% in 2050. This is the EU's GHG emission reduction pathway (compared to 1990) derived by energy system and non-CO2 emission modelling for the Commission's Low-Carbon Economy Roadmap in 2011. It is a good example of how modelling has informed policy-makers in setting the GHG target for the EU's 2030 climate and energy framework.
Policy impact analysis is the most difficult task. How to appropriately reflect existing policy instruments and their interactions? How to simplify the essence of future policies for policy scenarios? It is here that the "system" component of energy system modelling is most important. For example, a possible future carbon price trajectory resulting from the interplay of the legally determined amount of EU Emission Trading System allowances and the changing conditions of energy supply and demand can only be generated by a model which covers all these elements.
Three challenges: First, energy markets change profoundly. Supply actors have multiplied and electricity market dynamics have changed with the policy-led diffusion of renewables, while interconnections are becoming more important. These trends are set to continue and will be reinforced with the rise of energy storage and demand response. This is a challenge in particular for energy models of which the basic structure has often been developed in times of public monopolies or of oligopolistic competition of large suppliers. Second, interactions between the energy system and other parts of the economy are of increasing policy relevance. The debate on the sustainability of the increasing use of biomass is only one example. The EU's GHG effort-sharing targets could only be properly analysed by combining energy system models and models which cover the agriculture, forestry and waste sectors. How to best operate such combinations to ensure robust and timely analyses remains a challenge. Third, despite significant improvements, combining complex modelling with transparency remains a challenge, and stakeholders’ demands are increasing in this respect.
My colleagues and I look forward to seeing how existing and new energy system models address these challenges while continuing to provide quantitative information to policy-makers that is up to date and policy relevant.