A systemic approach to assessing energy security in a low-carbon EU energy system

Francesco Gracceva, Peter Zeniewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Until now, the complex relationship between energy security and climate change has been addressed using a partial understanding of security, one that is based on simplified indicators such as import dependence or fuel mix diversity. As a consequence, the synergies and trade-offs between climate change and energy security policies have not been systematically explored according to a wider understanding of the latter concept. The purpose of this article is to resolve the resulting knowledge gap by proposing a theoretical approach to energy security that is consistent with its multi-dimensional nature, taking into account the whole energy supply chain. Five key 'systemic' properties of energy security will be identified - namely, stability, flexibility, adequacy, resilience and robustness. The paper proposes a novel framework to assess energy security and uses this framework to develop a comprehensive approach to the interactions between climate change policies and energy security. The impact of a low-carbon scenario on one of these five properties (long-term robustness) will be assessed using a complex multi-regional energy system model. The results demonstrate how this scenario induces structural changes along the whole energy supply chain, revealing dynamic vulnerabilities and trade-offs that are not adequately accounted for by existing indicator-based assessments. Finally, the paper provides solid foundations for further analysis of these trade-offs using more detailed sectoral models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335–348
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2014


  • Energy security
  • Energy system analysis
  • Low carbon
  • Times integrated assessment model (TIAM)

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