Power Systems 2050 – Guidelines for Design

Power Systems 2050 – Guidelines for design

European working group for developing guidelines on the production of power systems scenarios


Climate challenges and threats on future fossil fuel supplies have impelled many French and European institutions, companies and associations to build up scenarios, which explore how to switch to lower-carbon and more-“sustainable” energy systems (and what are their impacts).

Publicly-available prospective scenarios to get rid of fossil fuels are now quite various.

These scenarios make extensive use of low-carbon electric production systems. These systems may be to a greater or lesser extent controllable (such as hydropower, biomass and – partly – nuclear) or inevitable (either intermittent, such as wind and solar power, or non-intermittent, such as river hydropower and concentrated solar power).

Depending on the possible imbalances between supply and demand, these scenarios consider to a greater or lesser extent using storage systems and production-delay systems (batteries, pumping storage, flywheels, etc.), relying on peak-load consumption cut-off and consumption delay, keeping on using thermal power plants, with possibly some CO2 capture and storage.

Proposed scenarios are so various and complex that assessing how effective each of them is as a policy-making tool is quite challenging. Geographical, functional, and time perimeters seldom are identical. Objectives of scenarios are diverse. Variables which are used, the way they are presented, as well as the models used to generate the results are different. Data openness level is unique to each scenario (some publish all their data and models whereas some do not).


The Shift Project therefore decided to produce a set of guidelines by setting up a working group composed of European experts. This group will agree on the compulsory practices for designing and publishing scenarios about power systems so as to make them comparable between them.

This set of guidelines will fulfill two objectives:

  • Help the different actors who produce power systems scenarios to produce more comprehensive, more precise, more transparent, understandable and communicable scenarios.
  • Help the target audience of the scenarios to better understand, and more easily compare, published scenarios. In particular, help scenarios become more useful tools for political decision-making.

Guidelines will be co-designed by the working group, composed of scholars, power professionals and scenario producers. The guidelines will be addressed to scenario producers. They will come with a scenario analysis grid aiming at checking how a scenario complies with the proposed guidelines. Once filled up for a scenario, the analysis grid will be addressed to the target audience of that scenario and will make the comparison to other scenarios easier.

Methodology and agenda

Our work will be composed of three parts:

1/Answering the following questions through literature reviews, experts interviews and a benchmark of published scenarios:

  • How should a scenario present the question it seeks to answer? How should it present its perimeter, and storyline?
  • What variables (e.g. the yearly production of photovoltaic electricity, or the cost of connecting an offshore wind farm to the grid) should be discussed in scenarios? How should they be discussed (for example, is the variable exogenous or endogenous?)?
  • What sensitivity analyses, or alternative scenarios should be studied?
  • How to present the type of model and computation methods which are used in the scenario? How to make them understandable by the reader?
  • How a scenario should popularize how the model works and why such results have been obtained from the hypotheses?
  • What effort should be made in terms of transparency and trustworthiness?

2/ The production of the guidelines document and the scenario analysis grid, based on the answers to the questions mentioned above.

3/ The application of the scenario analysis grid on a selection of scenarios

This work will follow a series of thematic sessions, in line with the questions about scenarios mentioned hereinabove. These sessions will be followed by the writing of the set of guidelines and the testing of the guidelines on some selected scenarios.

A tentative agenda is presented here:

Members of the Working Group

  • Christophe Bonnery director for prospective and economics, ENEDIS
  • Patrick Criqui  emeritus research director at the Laboratery for applied economics of Grenoble
  • Robin Girard assistant professor and researcher in renewable energies and electric systems, Sophia Antipolis and Mines ParisTech
  • Tanguy Le Guen senior associate in the strategy division, ENGIE
  • Robert Lowe Professor of Energy & Building Science and Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, University College of London
  • Jacques Percebois emeritus professor at the University of Montpellier, and director of the Research center on energy law and economics
  • Dimitri Pescia – senior associate for european energy cooperation, AgoraEnergiewende
  • Pedro Prieto – vice-president of the spanish association for the study of energy resources, AEREN
  • Laurent Schmitt – general secretary, ENTSO-E
  • Vera Silva – research program director, R&D divivision, EDF
  • Philippe Torrion – former senior executive vice-president for innovation and strategy at EDF

Presentation of the project (in French) at the Ateliers du Shift – February 8th 2018

Presentation note:

Project manager:
Nicolas Raillard