Dynamic modelling of the socio-technical systems of household energy consumption and carbon emissions
Oladokum, Michael Gbolagade
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There is a growing need to curtail the carbon emissions in the globe in order to achieve the climate stabilisation goals based on the climate change threat. And as such, different initiatives and schemes of Government have targeted a number of policies at reducing energy and carbon emissions targets with the housing sector of the economy not an exception. In order to explore the feasibility of achieving carbon emissions reduction targets within the housing sector of the UK, the research views the issue of household energy consumption and carbon emissions as complex sociotechnical problem involving the analysis of both the social and technical variables. This thesis therefore describes the development of the system dynamics based model to capture and solve the problem relating to the future profiles of household energy consumption and carbon emissions by providing a policy advice tool for use by the policy makers. In order to investigate the problem, the research adopts the pragmatist research strategy involving collection of both qualitative and quantitative data to develop the model. The developed model has six modules, which are: population/household, dwelling internal heat, occupants’ thermal comfort, climatic-economic-energy efficiency interaction, household energy consumption, and household CO2 emissions. In addition to the ‘baseline’ scenario, the developed model was used to develop four illustrative scenarios of household energy consumption and carbon emissions; which are: ‘efficiency’ scenario, ‘behavioural change’ scenario, ‘economic’ scenario, and ‘integrated’ scenario. The ‘efficiency’ scenario generally considers the effects of improvements in energy efficiency measures on household energy consumption and ultimately on household carbon emissions. Additionally, the ‘behavioural change’ scenario tries to model the effects of occupants’ change of energy consumption behaviour on household energy consumption and carbon emissions profile. The ‘economic’ scenario assumes a case of policy change by Government favouring energy prices reduction, thereby reducing the energy bills payable by the householders and its consequences on household energy consumption and carbon emissions. And the ‘integrated’ scenario combines the assumptions in the first three scenarios and then analyses its effects on household energy consumption and carbon emissions. The ‘baseline’ results indicate that about 49% savings in carbon emissions by the year 2050 below the base year of 1990 are possible. Additionally, the results of the developed model for all the illustrative scenarios indicate that carbon emissions savings of 46%, 55%, 58%, and 63% below the base year of 1990 are possible from the ‘economic’, ‘efficiency’, ‘behavioural change’, and ‘integrated’ scenarios respectively. The research concludes that it is unlikely for any of the scenarios by its own to meet the required legally binding reductions of 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 unless this is vigorously pursued. The unique contribution of the research is the development of a model that incorporates socio-technical issues that can be used for decision making over time.