An Integrated Energy Systems Approach to Decarbonization Policy: Is it the way forward?

The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES) Electricity Programme held its third Annual Electricity Day on 14 June 2019 at St Catherine’s College, Oxford,  for OIES Electricity Programme Sponsors and invited guests. The context for the day was the central role of the electricity sector in the decarbonization of an economy, its links with the other elements (e.g. energy vectors, regulation, infrastructure, and institutions) within a ‘whole energy system’, and whether there are opportunities that the adoption of a holistic approach could bring towards efforts to decarbonize the economy through utilizing synergies and flexibilities across the entire energy system.

The day was organized around three key questions, addressed over three sessions:

  1. What benefits, if any, can ‘integrated’ or ‘whole system’ thinking bring to our approach to particular energy issues, such as the decarbonization of difficult sectors such as heat?
  2. What roles do different modes of storage and different technologies play in realising an integrated, whole system approach to decarbonization?
  3. What are the key policy and commercial challenges of a whole systems approach?

Short presentations to introduce the issues in each session were followed by focused discussion and debate. This document summarizes some of the main messages from the day, organized by session.