A new paper from MaREI at University College Cork looks at how energy modellers could integrate more diverse perspectives on possible and preferred futures into the modelling process.
- A framework for participatory energy system modelling was developed.
- Different entry points are outlined for modellers to integrate participatory approaches.
- Good practice principles are provided to help navigate this process.
- Critical reflections on the key issues within this emergent field offer important areas for future research.
Energy system models are important tools to guide our understanding of current and future carbon dioxide emissions as well as to inform strategies for emissions reduction. These models offer a vital evidence base that increasingly underpins energy and climate policies in many countries. In light of this important role in policy formation, there is growing interest in, and demands for, energy modellers to integrate more diverse perspectives on possible and preferred futures into the modelling process. The main purpose of this is to ensure that the resultant policy decisions are both fairer and better reflect people’s concerns and preferences. However, while there has been a focus in the literature on efforts to bring societal dimensions into modelling tools, there remains a limited number of examples of well-structured participatory energy systems modelling processes and no available how-to guidance. This paper addresses this gap by providing good practice guidance for integrating stakeholder and public involvement in energy systems modelling based on the reflections of a diverse range of experts from this emergent field. The framework outlined in this paper offers multiple entry points for modellers to incorporate participatory elements either throughout the process or in individual stages. Recognising the messiness of both fields (energy systems modelling and participatory research), the good practice principles are not comprehensive or set in stone, but rather pose important questions to steer this process. Finally, the reflections on key issues provide a summary of the crucial challenges and important areas for future research in this critical field.
How can we incorporate participatory processes into energy systems modelling to ensure fairer policy decisions reflecting people’s concerns and preferences?
— Brian O Gallachoir (@BOGallachoir) February 4, 2024