The effect of spatial resolution on outcomes from energy systems modelling of heat decarbonisation

Francisca Jalil-Vega, Adam D. Hawkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Spatial resolution is often cited as a crucial determinant of results from energy systems models. However, there is no study that comprehensively analyses the effect of spatial resolution. This paper addresses this gap by applying the Heat Infrastructure and Technology heat decarbonisation optimisation model in six UK Local Authorities representing a range of rural/urban areas, at three levels of spatial resolution, in order to systematically compare results. Results show the importance of spatial resolution for optimal allocation of heat supply technologies and infrastructure across different urban/rural areas. Firstly, for the studied cases, differences of up to 30% in heat network uptake were observed when comparing results between different resolutions for a given area. Secondly, for areas that generally exhibit the high and low extremes of linear heat density, results are less dependent on spatial resolution. Also, spatial resolution effects are more significant when there is higher variability of linear heat density throughout zones. Finally, results show that it is important to use finer resolutions when using optimisation models to inform detailed network planning and expansion. Higher spatial resolutions provide more detailed information on zones that act as anchors that can seed network growth and on location of network supply technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-350
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Energy systems model
  • Heat decarbonisation
  • Heat infrastructure
  • Spatial resolution


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