Modelling transport energy demand: a socio-technical approach

Jillian Anable, Christian Brand, Martino Tran, Nick Eyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Despite an emerging consensus that societal energy consumption and related emissions are not only influenced by technical efficiency but also by lifestyles and socio-cultural factors, very few attempts have been made to operationalise these insights into models of future energy demand. This paper addresses that gap by presenting a quantitative scenario exercise using an integrated suit of sectoral and whole systems models to explore potential energy pathways in the UK transport sector. Techno-economic driven scenarios are contrasted with one in which social change is strongly influenced by concerns about energy use, the environment and wellbeing so that transport energy service demand is at a significantly lower level by 2050 than in the ‘business as usual’ assumptions of other pathways. The ‘what if’ Lifestyle scenario revealed a future in which distance travelled by car was reduced by 74% by 2050 and final energy demand in the transport sector would be halved compared to the reference case. Despite the more rapid uptake of plug-in and battery electric vehicles and the larger share of electricity in final energy demand, it showed a future where electricity sector decarbonisation could be delayed. The paper illustrates the key trade off between the more aggressive pursuit of energy efficiency and demand reduction in the transport sector and concludes there are strong arguments for pursuing both demand and supply side solutions in the pursuit of emissions reduction and energy security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date3 Sept 2010
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • transport energy
  • travel demand
  • lifestyles
  • energy modelling


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling transport energy demand: a socio-technical approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this