En-ROADS Simulation during the 24th World Energy Congress, in Abu Dhabi

February 13, 2020 by Caroline Reed

2019’s World Energy Congress, held in Abu Dhabi, featured the En-ROADS game, as part of the Future Energy Leaders (FEL—100) Congress. The FEL-100 community is a unique group of individuals, a community created and coordinated by the Word Energy Council, which includes the most promising 100 young energy professionals of the world.

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Facilitated by Andrei Covatariu (Energy Policy Group, Romania) and Andrew Greenspan (HSBC, United States), the game gathered more than 100 young professionals (FEL-100 community and additional young energy experts) from all over the world, with different educational backgrounds and working in different sub-sectors of the energy sector or related sectors, and using the En-ROADS simulator to test climate solutions.

“Today was a career pinnacle. I had the opportunity to stand in front of the Future Energy Leaders at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi, facilitating the World Energy Simulation developed by Climate Interactive alongside the inspiring Andrei Covatariu. This group rose to the challenge, tested their assumptions, and created their own scenario of success on climate.“

– Andrew Greenspan, Facilitator

Scheduled to have two rounds of negotiations and decisions, the setup of the game was also adjusted to the dimension of the group, taking into account their geographical origins and professional experiences. Apart from the usual groups (Climate Justice Hawks; Land, Agriculture & Forestry; Conventional Energy; Clean Tech; Industry & Commerce), the game featured 3 types of Governments (Developed Countries; Fast Growing Countries; Slow Growing Countries). Another particularity of the game was that Climate Justice Hawks had the right to pitch before and after the other teams, but had no input on the platform.

During the first round a rather uninspired decision made by the Slow Growing Countries (to raise the Economic Growth level), doubled by a no input strategy for the “Methane & Other Gases” slider, by any team, made the reach of the common goal an impossible target. However, the decisions taken by other teams (small increase of carbon tax, adding renewable subsidies and some forestation policies) determined a decrease of the temperature level, at about 2.5° C.

Although a bit reluctant that the main goal can be reached, a second round was proposed by the facilitators. In a very short debriefing session, before the beginning of the second round, the teams concluded that a steep increase of the economic growth will cause a significant increase of energy demand, which in the absence of “clean” supply, will cause more harm. Moreover, attention was raised about the impact of other GHGs, such as methane.

The second round found all of the teams more determined to collaborate and agree on win-win solutions, a sign that the model and the first result changed their perspective on the challenges faced.

Consequently, drastic decisions were taken, as the teams subsidised energy efficiency, both on the Building & Industry sector, as well as on the Transport, while also focusing on the increase of New Coal Technologies and increasing the support for RES deployment. Ultimately, a moderated change in the regulations to inhibit the production of Methane & Other Gases, determined a final result of 1.9° C.

“One of the peaks of my professional activity has been today’s facilitation of the World Energy Simulation Game, together with Andrew Greenspan, as part of the 24th World Energy Congress, a role playing exercise developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Climate Interactive that enables participants to try out the policies and investments that will allow them to reach their goals on climate change.“

– Andrei Covatariu, Facilitator

After a first reaction of content, the attendees remembered that although the result was reached with tremendous efforts, the end result was far from the 1.5° C recommendation. Moreover, the first comment raised was the impact on the customers’ bills, a scenario which will increase even more the affordability issues already faced by a major part of the end user.

After the second round, the attendees were able to play with the model, by personally choosing one indicator and providing a reasoning for trying a specific policy. In this context, an extended debate covered the role of subsidizing different type of electricity generators and the impact in the markets’ merit order. A specific question was raised related to the constant RES share, although this was moderately subsided. The explanation was related to the maximum subsidy level already awarded to nuclear technologies, which made this technology to replace the renewables’ position in the merit order (high subsidy, low need for revenues from the market, for nuclear vs. moderate subsidy and moderate need for revenues from the market, for renewables).

The session ended on a positive note, attendees being encouraged by the overall positive result, but emphasized the need to talk less and act more. The role of the FEL-100 community and the one played by young generations is crucial for reaching our climate targets.

The participants acknowledged the need of international collaboration and concrete commitments from all of the energy industry and beyond. The more cross-sectoral actions we take, the more we can achieve our ambitious goals.