Towards nexus thinking in energy systems modelling: A multi-scale, embodied perspective

Louisa Jane Di Felice*, Laura Pérez-Sánchez, Michele Manfroni, Mario Giampietro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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The European Green Deal aims to decarbonise the EU by 2050. In alignment with that goal, the REPowerEU plan took Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to address the security and sustainability of the EU's energy sector, by increasing energy efficiency and local energy production. While policy targets are often a political choice, models informing policies shape what dimensions are included in (or excluded from) sustainability discourses. The relations between the EU's energy system and other nexus elements of the social-ecological system, within the EU (local) and outside (embodied in imports) are underrepresented in models and policies. Nexus thinking highlights these relations. We present a framework to represent the energy system through a collection of local and embodied components across different scales, accounting for the nexus elements embodied in energy imports. The framework is explained through the examples of Spain, Sweden and the EU, for 2018. By focusing on the interactions between energy and local and embodied nexus elements, we show how synergies between security and sustainability are less linear than what REPowerEU would suggest. Our results point to the need of including embodied elements in policy agendas, to better account for the global nature of sustainability policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114052
Number of pages13
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Complexity
  • Decarbonisation
  • Multi-scale
  • Nexus
  • Security
  • Sustainability


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