Methodology for integrated modelling and impact assessment of city energy system scenarios

As the largest consumers of energy, cities are set to play a key role in the transition towards a greener and healthier future. And with the global population expected to become 70% urban in the future, the challenge is to design cities able to balance energy efficiency, socioeconomic structure and historical identity.


Global climate change affects our everyday lives and can no longer be ignored. Concrete solutions need to be implemented as soon as possible. But the transition to a low-carbon society will only work if cities play their rightful key role.

Today, cities are responsible for 67% of the primary energy consumption and 70% of the global energy-related CO2 emissions. Urban dwellers are expected to reach 70% of the world population by 2050 with an increasing impact on energy consumption.
Cities may play a pivotal role in the mitigation of climate change by reducing their energy consumption and CO2 emissions: this paper proposes a new methodology to characterize the current energy flows and to develop future model scenarios using the case study of Valencia (Spain).


Cities should play a key role in the transition to a low carbon society as they concentrate more than half of the world’s population and are responsible for about 67% of primary energy consumption and around 70% of the energy-related CO2 emissions. To achieve the agreed climate targets, efficient urban planning is a must. Tools and methods have been developed to model different aspects of the energy performance of urban areas. Nevertheless, these only go so far as city energy systems are highly complex. Therefore new integrated tools and methods are still needed. This paper presents a methodology for integrated city energy modelling and assessment, from the characterization of a city’s current energy performance to the development and assessment of future scenarios. Energy characterization is based on the combination of bottom-up approaches with top-down data to establish a city’s energy baseline. This baseline integrates bottom-up results from a GIS-based model which is used to characterize the city’s building stock energy performance, while information available on the vehicle stock is used to model the mobility sector. Scenarios are developed from this baseline and assessed through a multi-criteria impact assessment model. A simplified case study has been carried out for the city of Valencia (Spain) to demonstrate the suggested methodology, and results are shown for three different scenarios: one focused on the building sector, one on transport, and one combining measures in both sectors. The transport-focused scenario looks to be the most effective in saving energy and reducing emissions. The method proposed is aimed at helping cities develop strategies and plans for their energy transition. The main challenges for its application in cities are data availability at urban level, the uncertainty related to modelling the transport sector, and the unavailability of adapted I/O tables at city scale to assess socioeconomic impacts.

Read the full paper here.