Select Page


How is Canada’s Energy Future projected? A case study for synthesis mapping in net-zero energy modelling

Format: Maps & Exhibits, Format: Papers, Mapping Mondays, RSD12, RSD12 Maps & Exhibits, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Mapping & Modelling, Topic: Policy & Governance, Topic: Socioecological Design

Angelsea Saby, Matthew Hansen, Tina Huynh, and Jeanne Barry

Synthesis mapping is a tool used to visually communicate evidence and expertise of a multi-layered system. It distinguishes itself from other forms of systems mapping with the use of visual metaphors, an iterative approach, and the end goal of enabling stakeholder discourse. The work of Jones et al. (2017) provides an exemplary demonstration of this technique. Energy system modelling, on the other hand, is a largely computational approach. Models typically use depictions that are calculative formulas or workflow diagrams for use by other experts in the field and are often stand-alone. Arguably, energy system modelling itself is a multi-layered system. These layers consider the use of energy across sectors, what energy is available, and impactful trends from other domains of expertise. While not a social system itself, a more common application for synthesis maps, energy system modelling can have some impact on social systems. This is particularly true if used by policy analysts in the shaping of government policies. As Canadians and policymakers increasingly look to modellers for insights on complex questions about energy, energy system modelling is facing new interest in its method from stakeholders who may not be modellers themselves. As such, synthesis mapping presents a unique opportunity to share this knowledge. This paper explores one such opportunity in the communication of the Energy Futures Modeling System. Developed and used by the Canada Energy Regulator to produce yearly energy projections, this energy modelling system is newly pictured in an accessible format on a publicly available website. This paper demonstrates a process for synthesis mapping in this unique context and proposes its application to new contexts.

Mapping Monday presentation: May 13, 2024

Mapping Mondays

Canada’s Energy Future series explores how possible energy futures might unfold for Canadians over the long term and uses economic and energy models to do this analysis. These models collectively comprise the Energy Futures Modeling System (EFMS), newly presented in 2023 as a synthesis map. A unique application of synthesis mapping, this map uses a digital format to reach a broader audience, informed by the Style Guide and Directive on Open Government. Intended to communicate to a variety of audiences and for possible re-use in decision-making contexts, its use of metaphor is key to communicating the complexities of this system. A printed version has also been used for demonstration purposes.

Introduced by senior energy analyst Matthew Hansen and led by experience designer Angelsea Saby, the Mapping Monday presentation is a tour through the premise, process, and promise of what happens when synthesis mapping and energy modelling collide. The map will be released in late 2024.

Mapping samples from the net-zero energy project, Canada

The presentation will be posted here after the session.




Citation Data

Author(s): Angelsea Saby, Matthew Hansen, Tina Huynh, and Jeanne Barry
Year: 2023
Title: How is Canada’s Energy Future projected? A case study for synthesis mapping in net-zero energy modelling
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
Verified by MonsterInsights