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A full model documentation for POLES-JRC is available:

POLES-JRC model documentation (2017)

POLES (Prospective Outlook on Long-term Energy Systems) is a world energy-economy partial equilibrium simulation model of the energy sector, with complete modelling from upstream production through to final user demand. It can be used in a great number of ways, from global outlooks of the energy markets and technologies to country- or sectoral-level impact study of energy and climate.

The POLES model uses a dynamic partial equilibrium framework, specifically designed for the energy sector but also including other GHG emitting activities (e.g. the six GHGs of the “Kyoto basket”). The simulation process uses dynamic year-by-year recursive modelling, with endogenous international energy prices and lagged adjustments of supply and demand by world region, which allows for describing full development pathways to 2050.


Key features

  • Long-term (2050) simulation of world energy scenarios/projections and international energy markets.
  • World energy supply scenarios by main producing country/region with consideration of reserve development and resource constraints (80 producing countries/regions).
  • Outlook for energy prices at international, national and sectoral level.
  • Disaggregation into 15 energy demand sectors, with over 40 technologies (power generation, buildings, transport).
  • Detailed national/regional energy balances and emissions, integrating primary production, primary demand, transformation & power, losses and final energy demand. 54 consuming countries + 12 regions; including all individual EU Member States and EU surroundings (UK, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Turkey).
  • Full power generation system (and feedback effect on other energies): 30 explicit technologies, load curve simulation with typical days, annual capacity planning and dispatch based on LCOE, centralized vs decentralized, potentials associated to renewables, CCS.
  • Transformation: Explicit technologies for liquids from gas, liquids from coal, biofuels, hydrogen production.
  • Impacts of energy prices and tax policies on regional energy systems. National greenhouse gas emissions and abatement strategies.
  • Energy trade: Oil (global pool); Gas (bilateral trade from 37 exporters to 14 importing markets); import needs for coal, solid biomass, liquid biofuels, uranium; exogenous for electricity.
  • Costs of national and international GHG abatement scenarios with different regional targets/endowments and flexibility systems. CO2 emission Marginal Abatement Cost curves and emission trading system analyses by region and/or sector, under different market configurations and trading rules
  • Technology diffusion under conditions of sectoral demand and inter-technology competition based on relative costs and merit orders.
  • Endogenous developments in energy technologies, with impacts of public and private investment in R&D and cumulative experience with “learning by doing”. Induced technological change of climate policies.

Final demand

The final demand evolves with activity drivers, energy prices and technological progress. The following sectors are represented:

  • industry: chemistry (energy uses and non-energy uses are differentiated), non-metallic minerals, steel, other industry;
  • buildings: residential, services (specific electricity uses are differentiated, different types of buildings are considered);
  • transport (goods and passengers are differentiated): road (motorcycles, cars, light and heavy trucks – different engine types are considered), rail, inland water, international maritime, air domestic and international;
  • agriculture.

Energy transformation

Power system

The power system describes capacity planning of new plants and operation of existing plants for 40 technologies.

The planning considers the existing structure of the power mix (vintage per technology type), the expected evolution of the load demand, the production cost of new technologies, and resource potential for renewables.

The operation matches electricity demand considering the installed capacities, the variable production costs per technology type, the resource availability for renewables.

The electricity demand curve is built from the sectoral distribution over 2 typical days: one for summer and one for winter, each decomposed into twelve 2h blocks.

Electricity price by sector depend on the evolution of the power mix, of the load curve and of the energy taxes.

Other sectors

The model also describes other energy transformations sectors: liquid biofuel (BTL), coal-to-liquid (CTL), gas-to-liquid (GTL), hydrogen (H2).

Energy supply

Oil supply

Oil discoveries, reserves and production are simulated in 88 individual countries and for 6 types of fuel: conventional crude & NGLs (inland and shallow water), tar sands, extra heavy oil, oil shale (kerogen), deepwater and arctic oil.

The market is structured along the market power of the different countries:

  • non-OPEC production produces depending on remaining reserves, oil price and production cost;
  • OPEC production adjusts to the evolution of demand and non-OPEC production;
  • Gulf production can develop a spare capacity to adjust for short term variations, it adjusts to the evolution of demand and non-Gulf production.

International oil price depend on the evolution of spare capacity in the Gulf (short term: 1 year), word R/P ratio (long-term) and the marginal production cost of non-conventional oil. Price to consumer considers the evolution of taxation, including the impact of a carbon value.

Gas supply

Gas discoveries, reserves and production are simulated in 88 individual countries or regions for 4 types of gas: conventional gas (inland and shallow water), shale gas, deepwater and arctic gas. They supply 15 regional markets, made up of the national gas demand of the 66 POLES countries and regions. 41 of the producers are considered as key producers with a capacity to export on international markets through trading routes. Gas transport is done through inland pipeline, offshore pipelines or LNG.

Gas price is simulated for 3 regional markets: Europe, America, Asia. It depends on the transport cost, the regional R/P ratio (long-term trend), the evolution of oil price and the development of LNG (integration of the different regional markets). Price to consumer considers the evolution of taxation, including the impact of a carbon value.

Coal supply

Coal production is simulated in 81 individual countries or regions. Some countries (USA, Australia, China, India) have two or more production regions to better represent transportation costs which can represent a significant share of the coal delivery cost. They supply 15 regional markets, made up of the national coal demand of the 66 POLES countries and regions. 26 of the producers are considered as key producers with a capacity to export on international markets through trading routes.

Coal delivery price for each route depends on the transport cost (international and inland), the mining cost, and other operation costs. An average delivery price is calculated for each of the 15 consuming markets. The model also calculates an average international price for 3 "continental" markets: Europe, Asia, America. Price to consumer considers the evolution of taxation, including the impact of a carbon value.

Biomass supply

The model differentiates 3 types of primary biomass: energy crops, short rotation crop (cellulosic) and wood (cellulosic). They are described for each of the 66 country through a potential and a production cost curve – in the case of SRC and wood this is derived from look-up tables provided by the specialist model GLOBIOM-G4M.

Biomass can be traded, either in solid form or as transformed liquid biofuel.

Wind, solar and other renewables

These renewables are associated to potentials per country, which can be more detailed (in the case of wind and solar, where supply curves are used) or less (hydro, geothermal, ocean where only a potential figure is used).

GHG emissions

CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion are derived directly from the POLES energy balance, that is influenced by mitigation policies (carbon value, support policies to technologies, energy efficiency targets, ..).

Other GHGs from energy and industry are simulated using activity drivers identified in the POLES model (sectoral value added, mobility per type of vehicles, fuel production,..) and abatement cost curves.

GHG from agriculture and LULUCF are derived from GLOBIOM/G4M lookup tables.