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Scenario analysis - Initiating a scientific community for energy scenario building
The world now has a profusion of forecast energy scenarios from all directions. For example, the IPCC has devoted a complete report (the SRREN ) to forecast scenarios for renewable energy sources. However, the scenarios produced by different organisations are not usually easy to compare directly, and nor are they easy to evaluate for decision-makers (in economics or politics), because they do not provide the same variables, do not always include even elementary consistency checks, are not always transparent or correctly sourced, etc. Decision-makers therefore run the risk of becoming lost amongst all these variables and of basing their decisions on the wrong fundamentals. Given the importance of energy in the world economy, this could have catastrophic consequences.
The Shift Project has also decided to work alongside a number of leading French researchers to set up a scientific community for energy scenario building, which will obey and apply the normal rules of science: creation of a semi-standardised benchmark against which scenarios can be compared, transparent publication of arguments in scientific reviews to enable reasoned criticism, etc.
We have also begun to work on methods that will enable interpolation of the major decision-support variables where these are not clear: required ultimate oil resources, overall capital expenditure, CO2 emissions, etc.
As part of providing practical content for this approach, The Shift Project has begun to apply this analysis to a number of energy scenarios produced by high-profile organisations (AIE, US EIA, Greenpeace, WWF, etc.) to compare them with the realities of the physical world and economics.
Léo Benichou graduated from Polytechnique and KTH (Royal Institute of Technology- Stockholm). He is the manager of the scenario project.