Man at the sea in front of wind turbines; Source: istockphoto.com/ferrantraite

© istockphoto.com/ferrantraite

Energy forecasts and scenarios provide an indication of the future developments in the energy supply. These studies are based on assumptions about long-term demographic, economic, technological and political developments. With the aid of models which reflect the complex interrelationships as realistically as possible, a comprehensive picture of the future energy supply is developed. However, the extent to which the models that these forecasts and scenarios are based can reflect the complexity of the real world is limited and subject to a certain level of simplification. Governments, organisations and companies use the results of such studies as a reference for devising economic policy or corporate strategies.

Energy forecasts

Energy forecasts are used to predict the most likely development of the energy supply. One example of such a forecast is the Energy Reference Forecast, which has been commissioned regularly by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the past. One key challenge when making a forecast is that, the longer the forecast period, the harder it becomes to come up with a reliable prognosis.

Energy scenarios

Energy scenarios differ from energy forecasts in that they describe how a particular energy system could develop in the future, without this development necessarily having to be very likely. Energy scenarios are often used to find out which circumstances need to be met and which action needs to be taken in order for a specific target to be attained (target scenarios). As the number of possible developments is extremely high, scenario studies usually present several possible scenarios, which are then compared with one another.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has commissioned ‘long-term and climate change scenario’ projects in which several different scenarios for how Germany’s energy supply could develop in future are being devised. These projects assess different possibilities of transforming Germany’s energy supply in a way that helps meet the targets set out in the Federal Government’s energy strategy, placing a particular focus on the costs that these different possibilities would have. The study therefore serves as a starting point for discussing how the transformation of Germany’s energy supply can be further moved along.

Energy forecasts and scenarios of other organisations

There are also other organisations which commission energy forecasts and scenarios, including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the European Commission. A list of selected studies commissioned by other organisations can be found below.