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Title: Approaches for modelling the energy flow in food chains
Authors: Gowreesunker, BL
Tassou, SA
Keywords: Food and energy chain;Modelling approaches;Top-down models;Bottom-up models;Hybrid models
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Energy, Sustainability and Society, 5:7, (Febraury 2015)
Abstract: Background: The heavy reliance of the global food chain on the use of fossil fuels and anticipated rise in global population threatens future global food security. Due to the complexity of the food and energy systems, the impact of adequate food, climate or energy policies should be carefully examined in a modelling framework which considers the interaction of the food and energy systems. However, due to the different modelling approaches available, it can be very difficult to identify which method best suits the required purpose. Method: This paper presents the three main modelling approaches as ‘top-down’, ‘bottom-up’ and hybrids. It reviews different models under each category in terms of the practicality, benefits and limitations with reference to different past studies. Results: Bottom-up approaches generally tend to provide high levels of details, but their specificity to particular products/processes detracts their application to holistic models. On the other hand, top-down approaches consider the holistic aspects of the food chain, but the limited level of disaggregation prevents the identification of energy and environmental hot-spots. As a result, hybrid models seek to reduce the limitations of the individual approaches. Conclusions: This paper shows that the choice of one modelling approach over another depends on a variety of criteria including data requirements, uncertainty, available tools, time and labour intensity. Furthermore, future models and studies have to increasingly consider the inter-dependence of implementing social, demographic, economic and climate considerations in a holistic context to predict both short- and long-term impacts of the food chain.
Description: © 2015 Gowreesunker and Tassou; licensee Springer. "This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. "
ISSN: 2192-0567
Appears in Collections:Dept of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering Research Papers

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