The Use of Energy Models in Local Heating Transition Decision Making: Insights from Ten Municipalities in The Netherlands

Birgit A. Henrich, T. Hoppe, Devin Diran, Z. Lukszo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


In 2018, the Dutch national government announced its decision to end natural gas extraction. This decision posed a challenge for local governments (municipalities); they have to organise a heat supply that is natural gas-free. Energy models can decrease the complexity of this challenge, but some challenges hinder their effective use in decision-making. The main research question of this paper is: What are the perceived advantages and limitations of energy models used by municipalities within their data-driven decision-making process concerning the natural-gas free heating transition? To answer this question, literature on energy models, data-driven policy design and modelling practices were reviewed, and based on this, nine propositions were formulated. The propositions were tested by reflecting on data from case studies of ten municipalities, including 21 experts interviews. Results show that all municipalities investigated, use or are planning to use modelling studies to develop planning documents of their own, and that more than half of the municipalities use modelling studies at some point in their local heating projects. Perceived advantages of using energy models were that the modelling process provides perspective for action, financial and socio-economic insights, transparency and legitimacy and means to start useful discussions. Perceived limitations include that models and modelling results were considered too abstract for analysis of local circumstances, not user-friendly and highly complex. All municipalities using modelling studies were found to hire external expertise, indicating that the knowledge and skill level that municipal officials have is insufficient to model independently.
Original languageEnglish
Article number423
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Energy modelling
  • data-driven policy design
  • heating transition
  • local policy
  • modelling practices
  • multi-model ecologies
  • municipality


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