Dynamic Modelling of Energy Transitions Using a Coupled Modelling-Narrative Approach
Moallemi, Enayat A.
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Energy transitions are a matter of competitions between multiple emerging systems and a dominant, established system. Understanding the complex dynamics of these interactions can assist betterinformed decision making and policy interventions. This paper presents a coupled modelling-narrative approach, consisting of a System Dynamics (SD) model interlinked with a narrative transitions-theoretical framework. The approach is geared at understanding the dynamics of emerging on-grid electricity sources, such as renewables, in power sector transitions. The value of implementing such a coupled approach is twofold. Firstly, it empowers the SD modelling process. As SD modelling itself is agnostic to the conceptualisation of the (societal) system under study, it is left to the modeller to design an appropriate SD structure – i.e. Causal Loop Diagram. The approach presented in this paper provides a narrative theoretical framework based on the state-of-the-art of Sustainability Transitions literature and a generic SD model (applicable to similar energy transition cases) which directly translates the key concepts and dynamical hypotheses. The theoretical framework enables the creation of highly structured narratives that not only provide a clear overview of the case, but also assist the identification of case specific boundary conditions, parameters, feedback loops and therefore in setting up and validating the SD model. Secondly, the close connection between the narrative theoretical framework and the SD model enables considerable explanatory power that cannot be obtained from simply using a model or a narrative. Where the narrative case description, for example, outlines the developments following a certain policy intervention, the SD model allows interrogating the detailed interactions of the chain of causes and consequences following the intervention. SD models are able to represent and reproduce complex causal relations including feedbacks, non-linearity, threshold effects and time delays – dynamics which are impracticable to analyse with human mental models alone. This paper presents how the SD model is structured based on the core concepts of the narrative theoretical framework. Examples from an existing application by the authors of the framework on the case of the emergence of on-grid solar electricity in India are used to illustrate how the coupling of the SD model with the narrative theory helps addressing questions going beyond modelling or narrative analysis in isolation