The separation of physical accounting from the representation of behavior provides support for strategic analysis, as well as policy analysis. Strategic analysis involves the delineation of possible or physically coherent pathways some of which may lead to a desired outcome or meet overall planning objectives. Once a pathway or set of pathways has been selected, policy analysis is used to select the policy instruments and the intensity with which they must be used in order to put the system on the desired trajectory. The physical accounting components may be used independently of the behavioural components for the purpose of strategic analysis. The behavioural components that relate policies (incentives, subsidies, taxes, regulation) to the decisions of economic actors can be used in conjunction with the physical accounting components to perform policy analysis.
Most if not all the existing energy models (e.g. CIMS, ENERGY2020, MARKAL, NEMS/Maple-C, etc) are based on conceptual designs that focus on the representation of the behaviour of energy producers and consumers and mix the physical and behavioural components in such a way that they are unable to support strategic analysis. Not only is their time horizon too short for strategic analysis, but the future is bounded by past behaviour embedded in statistically estimated parameters such as price elasticities and preferences.
CanESS can be used to create a wide range of energy system scenarios that might involve:
- An energy system scaled to different rates of population and economic growth
- Energy systems with different levels of energy independence
- Fuel switching - increased use of non-emitting energy currencies
- Increased use of biofuels
- Changes in life style
- Improved energy efficiency
- Changes in mode of transportation
- Travel patterns by household and freight intensity
- Changes in the sources of energy
- The introduction and penetration of new technologies for transforming energy sources into enrgy currencies.
- Bio ethanol. A study of the penetration of biothanol blends as fuels for the light duty vehicles as an example of the use of systems modeling as a tool for assessing the sustainability technologies - in collaboration with the National Research Council – 2004. This study countered the results of life cycle assessments that had lead to the establishment of bio-fuel targets and production subsidies and raised the issue of the potential conflict between the use of crops for feed and fuel.
- Bio diesel. The Potential Impact of Biodiesel Under a Scenario of Increased Penetration of Advanced Diesel Engines in Light Duty Vehicles - National Research Council – April 2006.
- Oil Sands. The Potential Impact of an Increased Use of Synthetic Crude Oil and the Dieselisation of the Light-Duty Vehicle Fleet in Canada – National Research Council – April 2006. This project led to the elaboration of a process based model of alternative oil sands production technologies.
- A Glimpse at Canada’s Energy Systems in 2050. Workshop hosted in collaboration with Energy Futures Network and Energy Council of Canada, June 5, 2008, Calgary. Scenario themes included business-as-usual, carbon sequestration, electricity generation from non-emitting energy sources, fuel switching from hydrocarbon fuels to hydricity, and increased energy efficiency
- Natural Gas. CanESS was used to run a range of scenarios based on a range of possible changes in future trends in the production of natural gas from both conventional and non-conventional sources to explore impacts on Alberta and Canada. This project was carried in collaboration with Energy Futures Network for the Alberta Department of Energy. This project further developed the natural gas related modules of the Canadian Energy Systems Simulator through updating the supply modules (to reflect recent production history and reserves from conventional and unconventional gas resources plus potential LNG imports) and updating the demand modules to reflect current trends in natural gas use.
- Bio-mass Energy Possibilities for Alberta to 2100. This project was carried in collaboration with Energy Futures Network for the Alberta Energy Research Institute. The project involved representing biomass available from forestry and agricultural sources in Alberta and the processes required to transform the biomass into energy currencies.