ECCO models used around the world

The early roots of the ECCO model lie in the energy crises of the 1970s and the growth of energy analysis as a discipline. The first simple computer model was developed in 1978 by Ian Hounam and Malcolm Slesser at the Systems Analysis Division of Euratom, Italy. Slesser continued to develop the methodology at Edinburgh University's Centre for Human Ecology with Jane King, collaborating with local researchers on small-scale models of Kenya and Mauritius.

In the 1990s, the EU funded a small team at Edinburgh to build models of the UK and the European Union in collaboration with partner institutes in France, Spain, Germany and Finland. At the same time, the University of Groningen's Centre for Energy and the Environment adopted the modelling approach, as did the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and doctoral theses on the model were completed at Groningen, Canterbury and Edinburgh.

In 1995, Barney Foran of the Australian organisation CSIRO undertook a study tour in Europe and America in preparation for a large 'Resource Futures' research programme. After meeting the Edinburgh ECCO team, he opted to use ECCO as one of the key modelling techniques for his programme and the Australian ECCO model has continued to be developed over the last eight years, initially with the University of Edinburgh, and latterly with Dr. Crane's Sunwheel Technologies Ltd.

As a result, the Australian model has expanded to cover an increasing range of issues, as the Irish model may do over future iterations. The model was able to examine the broader consequences of sectoral policy issues, providing deeper insights than a static or linear analytical exercise could offer. Recent enhancements to 'OzEcco' include a comprehensive transport fuels module covering ethanol-and methanol-powered vehicles. According to a study 1 Crane and Foran carried out in 2000:

Methanol would be produced from the biomass of forests growing under a 20-year rotation at a rate of 20 cubic meters a year. Plantations would need to be established at the rate of 400,000 hectares (988,000 acres) a year costing about $2,500 a hectare. The cost of a biomass electricity plant was assumed to be about one and half times the cost of a traditional electricity plant on a megawatt basis. Overall, the study showed that a methanol economy would 'decarbonize' economic growth in Australia while simultaneously helping restore its degraded land and its marginalised local economies.

The model's business-as-usual scenario assumed that the Australian population grew to 25 million by 2050, that food exports were maintained at current levels, and that renewable energy and more efficient electricity production continued to be implemented to reflect government policies on greenhouse gas emissions.

David Crane writes: "The ECCO model offers a cross-sectoral analysis which is vital to identify synergies and the potential for 'win-win' policy options. It canšt tell us whether we are ready for radical social, political and microeconomic changes. Nonetheless, by validating visions from a 'topdown' perspective, the model can play a vital role in the process of effecting real change towards sustainability."

1] Foran BD & Crane DC (2000) "Modelling the Transition to a Biofuel Economy in Australia" in Ulgiati S et al. (eds) Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Advances in Energy Studies: Exploring Supplies, Constraints and Strategies, Porto Venere, Italy, May 23-27 2000, pp 423-439.

This is one of almost 50 chapters and articles in the 336-page large format book, Before the Wells Run Dry. Copies of the book are available for £9.95 from Green Books.

Green Books banner 1

Continue to Part A of Section 4: The European Union's support for renewable energy

Site map for Before the Wells Run Dry