Energy planning in general may allow for simple cost-benefit analysis; however, sustainable energy planning with the multiple factors and tradeoffs involved requires a different approach. Multi-criteria analysis is a natural part of the process in many cases, and a number of techniques have been applied so far. Many of them can be realized using Analytica, which gives modelers the added advantage of being able to switch rapidly between deterministic and stochastic approaches by selecting appropriate probability distributions.
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Weighted sum and weighted product methods
When these relate to cost-benefit analyses, relatively good performance against one criterion can erase relatively bad performance compared to another. Sustainability may not be apparent or even exist in globally positive results from such models. The simple additive weighted (SAW) model is for example essentially a cost-benefit model, as is the multiattribute utility theory (MAUT) model. AHP (analytic hierarchy process) also uses weighted attributes and rankings. TOPSIS (Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution) allows for compensatory aggregation: it weights each criterion and calculates a geometric distance between each scenario and the ideal solution. VIKOR (from the Serbian for Multi-criteria Optimization and Compromise Solution) offers a similar approach of compromise solution finding for decision problems with conflicting objectives.
Multi-criteria analysis models allowing for greater control of sustainability
These models include PROMETHEE (Preference ranking organization method for enrichment evaluation) and ELECTRE III (from the French for ELimination and Choice Expressing REality ). PROMOTHEE uses multi-criteria analysis based on six kinds of criteria with partial compensation, while ELECTRE allows for solutions or scenarios to be vetoed if they cross over pre-defined thresholds. ENE-MCA is an example of a model specifically built for sustainable planning. Presented by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, the Energy Multi-Criteria Analysis Tool uses a wide collection of energy future scenarios to let decision-makers see the effect of prioritizing four major factors: climate, energy security, health and costs.
Approaches based on Analytica
Although the techniques above are far from a complete collection (game theory and fuzzy methods also have contributions to make), they can already be put into action using Analytica. This has the benefit of giving initial appreciations of sustainable energy planning based on multi-criteria analysis. More advanced models can then be developed from this with Analytica. Examples of enhancements include the integration into the model of adaptive agents, as well as immediate factor importance analysis.