Rebuilding the Government’s UK-TIMES Model

UK-TIMES is the rigorous, comprehensive energy systems model the Government uses to explore how to reach different carbon-reduction targets. It covers industry, households, agriculture, electricity generation and transmission, transport, extractive industry, government and commerce.

TIMES is the successor to the MARKAL economy-wide energy model. It is a bottom-up cost optimisation model, which finds the most cost-effective ways to meet different climate change targets. Like MARKAL, it is a large and complex model, but unlike MARKAL it shows all greenhouse gas emissions, not just CO2 and energy supply/demand.

Our task, working for the Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change, was to carry out quality assurance and then re-structure the data and calculations that underpin the model. (This is known as ‘refactoring’.) There were 250 interlinked Excel workbooks, with 10 to 30 worksheets in each. We streamlined the files, drawing input data and calculations together to produce just nine Excel workbooks.

Our rebuilt files are easier to work with, more robust, and faster to run than the original files. Our quality assurance also identified and suggested corrections for 240 errors – some minor but some much more important – in the different sector workbooks.

*The image above shows the connections between different components of the model before our re-structuring work. (The outcome of our work was simpler.)