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Addressing Challenges in Long-Term Strategic Energy Planning in LMICs: Learning Pathways in an Energy Planning Ecosystem

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jats:pThis paper presents an innovative approach to addressing critical global challenges in long-term energy planning for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The paper proposes and tests an international enabling environment, a delivery ecosystem, and a community of practice. These components are integrated into workflows that yield four self-sustaining capacity-development outcomes. Planning long-term energy strategies in LMICs is particularly challenging due to limited national agency and poor international coordination. While outsourcing energy planning to foreign experts may appear to be a viable solution, it can lead to a reduction in government agency (the ability of a government to make its own informed analysis and decisions). Additionally, studies commissioned by external experts may have conflicting terms of reference, and a lack of familiarity with local conditions can result in misrepresentations of on-the-ground realities. It is argued here that enhancing national agency and analytical capacity can improve coordination and lead to more robust planning across line ministries and technical assistance (TA) providers. Moreover, the prevailing consulting model hampers the release and accessibility of underlying analytics, making it difficult to retrieve, reuse, and reconstruct consultant outputs. The absence of interoperability among outputs from various consultants hinders the ability to combine and audit the insights they provide. To overcome these challenges, five strategic principles for energy planning in LMICs have been introduced and developed in collaboration with 21 international and research organizations, including the AfDB, IEA, IRENA, IAEA, UNDP, UNECA, the World Bank, and WRI. These principles prioritize national ownership, coherence and inclusivity, capacity, robustness, transparency and accessibility. In this enabling environment, a unique delivery ecosystem consisting of knowledge products and activities is established. The paper focuses on two key knowledge products as examples of this ecosystem: the open-source energy modeling system (OSeMOSYS) and the power system flexibility tool (IRENA FlexTool). These ecosystem elements are designed to meet user-friendliness, retrievability, reusability, reconstructability, repeatability, interoperability, and audibility (U4RIA) goals. To ensure the sustainability of this ecosystem, OpTIMUS is introduced—a community of practice dedicated to maintaining, supporting, expanding, and nurturing the elements within the ecosystem. Among other ecosystem elements, training and research initiatives are introduced, namely the Energy Modelling Platform for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific as well as the ICTP Joint Summer School on Modelling Tools for Sustainable Development. Once deployed via workflows, the preliminary outcomes of these capacity-development learning pathways show promise. Further investigation is necessary to evaluate their long-term impacts, scalability, replication, and deployment costs.</jats:p>


Peer reviewed: True

Acknowledgements: We would like to extend special thanks to Simon Patterson of the #CCG team for his valuable editorial additions, which significantly improved the quality of this paper. Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the contribution of Sarel Greyling, also from the #CCG team, for his outstanding graphic design work, which enhanced the visual presentation of the findings. The initiation and initial running of the Roundtable Process was led by Luca Petrarulo under the Energy for Economic Growth Programme, overseen by Simon Trace. The OpTIMUS community was initiated by Mark Howells and Holger Rogner. The Energy Modelling Platform (EMP) and its Summer Schools were initiated by Mark Howells with the active involvement of Carla Cannone, several members of the division of Energy Systems at KTH (now the division of Energy Systems, including Eunice Ramos, Ioannis Pappis, Vignesh Sridharan, and Constantinos Taliotis), and members of the OnSSET team. Mark Howells also led the development of The ICTP Sustainable Development Summer School. The first EMP (EMP-Europe) was developed in partnership with the European Commission, under the Horizon 2020 REEEM project (Grant Agreement n. 691739), with Mark Howells as Project Coordinator for REEEM. EMP-Europe was organized under WP3 of REEEM led by the Reiner Lemoine Institute (RLI), with key contributions from Berit Müller and Ludwig Hülk (RLI), Francesco Gardumi and Georgios Avgerinopoulos (KTH), and Olavur Ellefsen (TOKNI). EMP-Europe has now become the Energy and Climate Modelling Platform (ECEMP). The EMP Africa was developed with Linus Mofor and Mekalia Paulos Aklilu of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and partners. While EMP for Latin America and the Caribbean was developed with the University of Costa Rica and partners. The EMP for Asia-Pacific is planned for a full launch in 2024.

Publication status: Published

Funder: members of the OpTIMUS community

Funder: Climate Compatible Growth Programme (#CCG) of the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)


40 Engineering, 33 Built Environment and Design, 51 Physical Sciences, 7 Affordable and Clean Energy

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