About the project

For the achievement of the 2-degree goal set out 2015 in the Paris Agreement, two central strategies have to be implemented in all countries:

  • enhancing energy efficiency (EE) and
  • decarbonizing remaining energy supply and demand, in particular by large penetration of renewable energy sources (RES).

Scenarios with different focusses and assumptions have been developed to map this development until 2050. While these scenarios present a major step forward beyond previous modelling approaches by integrating societal trends as increasing climate awareness or circular economy, much more progress is necessary to enhance the empirical basis for such New Societal Trends and their representation in models.

New Societal Trends are understood as societal developments arising from general Megatrends, which can have potentially large (increasing or decreasing) impacts on energy consumption as well as cross-sectoral demand shifts.

Those New Societal Trends are not simply the extrapolation of already presently observed trends (“continuous or linear trends”) but may take up speed when they are embraced by larger parts of the society (“disruptive or non-linear trends”). Such trends include:

  • Transition of Consumers to Prosumagers,
  • Move towards a Circular Economy and a Low-carbon industry,
  • Digitalisation of the Economy and of private lives,
  • Trends towards a Shared Economy

and will be the main focus of the present project. In this context, newTRENDs is developing the analytical basis for a “2050 Energy Efficiency Vision” taking into account New Societal Trends in energy demand modelling.

 

Objectives

The aim of newTRENDs (New trends in energy demand modeling) is to increase the qualitative and quantitative understanding of impacts of New Societal Trends on energy consumption and to improve the model¬ling of energy demand, energy efficiency and policy instruments. Through this, the ability of policy makers to guide those trends in the light of the Paris Agreement and the long-term climate and energy targets of the European Union can be increased.

Derived from this overall objective, the project newTRENDs has the three detailed sub goals. The first goal aims at identifying and quantifying how New Societal Trends affect energy demand (its structure and patterns, including cross-sectoral interdependencies). The subsequent goal aims to investigate how energy demand models are to be improved to represent New Societal Trends and to represent policies that can influence such trends in the light of the Energy Efficiency First Principle in energy demand models. The final goal aims for integrating recent empirical findings on the impacts of New Societal Trends as well as information from detailed data sources such as smart meter data available from recent technical advances into energy demand models, in order to improve the empirical basis for such investigations. Special care is given to uncertainties that are inherent when assessing New Societal Trends.

Methods

From a methodological perspective, three major aspects characterize the newTRENDs project. Firstly, the combination of foresight methods with quantitative model runs is implemented to select appropriate trends and work out, how such trends can be quantified. For this purpose relevant trends are selected and their relevance for the energy system is assessed during a deep dive analysis. A condensation of those trends in clusters as well as the translation to model parameters and modelling gaps is carried out.

Secondly, it is investigated how existing, well-known energy demand models are to be improved to represent New Societal Trends, e.g. through agent-based and cross-sectoral approaches and how policies are represented in the demand models.  For this, an initial scenario run of the existing demand models is carried out. Based on this a gap analysis of modelling structure as well as empirical data and an analysis of necessary model adaption is implemented. After realizing the model adaptions, a second scenario run is carried out for the comparison with the initial results.

The third methodological aspects focusses on the data perspective and aims to integrate recent empirical findings on consumption patterns and policy impacts. Those data will be analysed statistically and integrated in the models focussing on prosumager behaviour. In addition, the data can be used for policy analysis.

Summary

The goal of newTRENDs is to recognize and model measure the influence of new social trends on energy needs demand, and hence to develop scenarios of their future development.  The digitization of the economy and private life (including new and smarter ways for private households to consume, produce and manage their own energy), investments in autonomous electric cars and other transport reforms, the circular economy, creation of a low-carbon industry, and the sharing economy particular in transport and the tertiary sector – these five trends are expected to have a significant will have the greatest impact on increasing or reducing energy demand in the European Union in the coming years.

New social trends may affect not only the amount of energy consumed, but also its preferred form by consumers, or the time period of the greatest burden on the energy grid. The larger the sections of society that succumb to these changes, the greater the evolution will take place throughout the energy system.

Researchers will use the qualitative (foresight) methods with quantitative cross-sectoral modelling. This combination is not widely applied so far and a great strength of the newTRENDs project. However, the quantitative models that will be enhanced in this project these are tools that are quite frequently often u used for the long-term forecasting of the by the EU for long-term forecasting. To make the analysis as accurate as possible, researchers will also use modern sources of data on social trends and energy consumption.