In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as prepare the world for the impacts of climate change, many governments around the world have called for changes to be made to their nation’s energy system. In addition to focusing on alternative portfolios of different fuels and power-generation technologies, researchers and advisory panels have urged that changes to energy systems be based on decision-making frameworks that incorporate stakeholders, and account for real-world resource, supply, and demand constraints. To date, the development and deployment of such frameworks have proven elusive.

This line of research focused on the development and testing of a decision support framework that combines elements from structured decision-making (SDM) with portfolio analysis; both of these methods that have been used independently to elicit preferences in complex decision contexts. This hybrid framework aimed to (1) provide necessary background information to users regarding the development of coupled climate-energy strategies; (2) account for users’ values and objectives; (3) allow for the construction of bespoke energy portfolios bounded by real-world supply and demand constraints; and (4) provide a more rigorous basis for addressing trade-offs.

Results from this research suggest the framework was user-friendly, led to significant increases in users’ knowledge about energy systems and, importantly, led to more internally consistent decisions. For these reasons, this framework may serve as a suitable template for supporting decisions about energy transitions that must be made by governments and industry.

This research was led by Dr. Douglas Bessette, a PhD student in the lab between 2011 and 2014. More information about this research can be found here, here, and here.