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Some copying is great

An exciting day for me. When we published the DECC 2050 pathways calculator, it was unusual in two respects: it was a simple open source spreadsheet, and it had a web front end that allowed anyone to play with it. We made it a simple open source spreadsheet because we wanted to make it easy for other people to check it and give us suggestions on how to make it better. We got that. But we also got something unexpected: other countries wanted to use it and make their own versions.

China’s 2050 calculator

So, I’m sitting here today in Beijing, next to a panel of Chinese government officials, who have taken our work, changed it to work for their country, added their own data, tested it with their own stakeholders and started using it in their own discussions. That was pretty exciting for me. But it isn’t the end. They have also copied us and put a web front end on their version so anyone, including me and you, can play with it. Take a look at *.

You can use it to see what would happen if China built 800 Gigawatts of onshore wind or if its industry grew more or less quickly, or if it boosted the efficiency of its coal generation. Well done to the Chinese team, in particular, Dr Yang who led the team and Mr Zhang who pulled a lot of the analysis together. Well done as well to the Foreign Office team in Beijing, in particular Leo Geddes and Nan Luo, for making this practical bit of climate diplomacy happen.

In the words of Dr Yang, the person in charge of China’s Calculator development, they released an on-line version today “in order to create a discussion forum where even a child could be engaged, so that people with different views about what is best for the energy system can understand each other, leading to mutual feedback and cross fertilisation”. Just like the UK. Some copying is great.

* They have even partially translated it into English

Filed under: Climate Change, Science, The British Energy Challenge

Comments: 8 Comments on Some copying is great
Posted on: Sep 18 2012

8 Responses to “Some copying is great”

  1. […] that was all an unexpected bonus. When we chose to make the UK work open, we did so because we wanted experts to dive in, check the […]

  2. […] you like this, you might also like: 1. Some copying is Great 2. Made in Taiwan 3. The British Energy Challenge 4. The Common Problem of […]

  3. Peter Newman says:

    There is an opportunity here: just make this great tool available to all countries. There’s only 200 or so – not much effort really. If we start with the OECD countries and we can get most of world’s high-carbon population understanding the issues.

    Good investment, I say.

  4. [...] week I wrote about the launch by China of their version of DECC’s 2050 Pathways Calculator. What I didn’t mention was [...]

  5. This is really encouraging work! Our best wishes to all involved. I look forward to more news as your work progresses.

  6. Elaine says:

    Nice Work! It makes all those long hours worth it.

  7. Tony Day says:


    Both the UK and China 2050 pathways calculators are potentially seriously misleading. The calculator cannot be used to represent energy pathways which have not been previously programmed into the calculator database.

    British Gas Corporation developed the technology to supply the whole of UK gas demand form Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG), the so-called 30 Year Plan.

    The current Chinese 2010 to 2015 Five Year Plan includes developing sufficient SNG to supply the equivalent of the whole of current UK gas demand. British companies are engaged in developing around 10% of new Chinese SNG capacity. SNG is an exceptionally low cost route to the development of CCS as it is inherently Carbon Capture Ready as it produces high purity CO2 as a
    by-product. Please advise whether this information has been incorporated into the 2050 calculator.

    Best wishes,

    Tony Day

    • Tom Counsell says:


      The China 2050 calculator includes coal to gas as an explicit choice.

      The DECC 2050 calculator includes coal-to-gas for electricity generation with CCS and it also includes biomass-to-gas for use in heating, as well as for use in electricity generation. It does not include coal-to-gas for feeding into the gas grid.

      You can download the UK excel spreadsheet and we welcome proposals for how to incorporate different technologies.


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