The UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), is tasked with maintaining secure and economic energy supplies for the UK, while ensuring that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions meet international targets set to combat climate change.
Under the Climate Change Act, the UK has a legal obligation to meet several national emission targets, called carbon budgets, including cutting UK greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 (which requires sourcing at least 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020).
To monitor carbon budgets, the Central Modelling Team at the DECC undertakes annual projections of energy use and emissions by modelling both overall UK energy demand and the electricity supply system and calculating the emissions based on the fuels used. These projection figures are uncertain however, due to variation in each of the economic and technical inputs used in the models.
DECC uses @RISK to explore the overall effects of these uncertainties and estimate the probabilities of not meeting the carbon budget.
“@RISK has all the sophisticated functionality required for Monte Carlo modelling, but is straightforward to use,” explains Dr Roger Lampert from the DECC Central Modelling Team. “Before adopting Monte Carlo modelling, the custom was to use scenario analysis. Using @RISK we can now use the statistical properties of the input data to better represent the full spectrum of possible model inputs. Consequently. we have more insight into the spectrum of outputs. The statistical rigour of the modelling gives us much more confidence in the level of uncertainty of our emissions estimates and therefore the UK’s ability to meet the carbon budgets.”