Irish scientists develop new global emissions computer model

Published by Shamim Malekmian on

June 27th, 2019

Irish scientists have developed a global computer model that stimulates energy and emissions outputs of the world’s power plants to aid researchers in devising better energy conservation and emission reduction strategies.

PLEXOS World, developed by Researchers at University College Cork’s centre for Energy, Climate and Marine (MaREI), is capable of demonstrating how 30,000 power plants in 164 countries annually operate.

The computer model accumulates information from 100 publicly available data points around the world to highlight energy and emission trends, assisting environmental research academics in devising plans to allay climate-change-triggering issues.

Dr Paul Deane, a co-developer of the new environmental research computer model, said that their innovation is a first of its kind and a ground-breaking tool for global environmental research.

“We are so proud of this development; we have pushed the limits of what once was thought unimaginable,” he said.

The tool has been described as capable of generating crucial data about electricity costs, demands and use across the world’s power plants.

The accumulated data on PLEXOS is “crunched” to produce four billion data points of output that can be visualised at a global or regional level across different timescales.

In addition to energy consumption data, the new model gives data on power plant types, size and location using data from the World Resource Institute. For wind and solar data as well as regional fossil fuel prices, PLEXOS draws on information from resources such as Renewable Ninja and BP Statistical Review.

The world’s fossil-fuel-generated energy consumption has reached a record high fossil fuels accounting for 80 per cent of energy consumption in the US last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration. In Ireland, fossil fuel reliance was even more drastic with over 90 per cent of all energy used in the country coming from fossil fuels in 2017.

Maarten Brinkerink, co-developer of the model expressed hope that the new tool will help address the world’s most intractable energy and climate change issues. “This is an incredible tool for research, and we are delighted to make it available to the global research community to tackle some of the world’s toughest energy and climate problems,” he said.

Glenn Drayton, Founder of Energy Exemplar, the company sponsoring PLEXOS software, said that the global data point is a reminder that “we share this tiny, fragile world with seven billion others” and that we need to address issues on an international level to protect it.

“My hope is that PLEXOS World will put solid numbers behind the global conversation on balancing future energy needs with conservation of resources and the environment,” he added.

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Shamim Malekmian

Shamim is a Senior Reporter at The Green News and a contributing writer to the Irish Examiner, Cork Evening Echo and the Dublin Inquirer.