Multi-model ecologies for shaping future energy systems: Design patterns and development paths

L. A. Bollinger*, C. B. Davis, R. Evins, E. J.L. Chappin, I. Nikolic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


As energy systems grow more complex, modeling efforts spanning multiple scales, disciplines and perspectives are essential. Improved methods are needed to guide the development of not just individual models, but also multi-model ecologies - systems of interacting models. Currently there is a lack of knowledge concerning how multi-model ecologies can and should be designed to facilitate adequate understanding of energy system complexity and its consequences. Via an analysis of twelve multi-model initiatives both within and outside the energy domain, this paper elucidates possible design patterns and development paths for multi-model ecologies.The results highlight two broad paths to developing energy system multi-model ecologies, one prioritizing interoperability and the other prioritizing diversity. The former path facilitates the efficient development of models spanning multiple scales and (to a degree) disciplines, and can ease systematic testing of assumptions. The latter is suited to bridging traditional disciplines and perspectives and advancing knowledge within the interstices of different knowledge communities. It is furthermore suggested that a combination of diversity, connectivity and hierarchy in multi-model ecology composition is central to enabling the development of complex webs of models capable of addressing the complexity of real-world energy systems.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalRenewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Complexity
  • Energy policy
  • Energy systems
  • Modeling
  • Multi-model ecologies


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