Energy modeling strategies and tools

What, what for, how can we model energy related stuff: a digital flipboard


From a structural perspective, an energy system is like any general system and is made up of a set of interacting component parts, located within an environment. These components derive from ideas found in engineering and economics. Taking a process view, an energy system "consists of an integrated set of technical and economic activities operating within a complex societal framework". The identification of the components and behaviors of an energy system depends on the circumstances, the purpose of the analysis, and the questions under investigation. The concept of an energy system is therefore an abstraction which usually precedes some form of computer-based investigation, such as the construction and use of a suitable energy model.

Public policy energy models have been criticized for being insufficiently transparent. The source code and data sets should at least be available for peer review, if not explicitly published. To improve transparency and public acceptance, some models are undertaken as open-source software projects, often developing a diverse community as they proceed. OSeMOSYS is one such example. For further remarks on the topic, have a look at the paper 'The importance of open data and software: Is energy research lagging behind?', and   some of the contributed articles to the SETIS Magazine on Energy Systems Modeling.


  1. RE-INVEST aims is to design robust and cost-effective investment strategies that will facilitate an efficient transformation towards a sustainable or 100% renewable energy system in Denmark and Europe. RE-INVEST addresses how to overcome silo-thinking that characterizes traditional energy sectors, by using a two dimensional interconnectivity approach as well as existing and new energy infrastructures.
  2. REEEM - Energy systems modelling project brings together 11 European modelling institutions (among which KTH, UCL, DTU, Universität Stuttgart, KIC Inno Energy and others) under the modelling effort of Horizon 2020 LCE21 call. The 42 months long project, which started in February 2016, aims to gain a clear and comprehensive understanding of the system-wide implications of energy strategies in support of transitions to a competitive low-carbon EU society. Comprehensive technology impact assessments will target the full integration from demand to supply and from the individual to the entire system. It will further address trade-offs across society, environment and economy along the whole transition pathway. To achieve these objectives, pathways for the European energy system to 2050 will be assessed through a plethora of models, soft- and hard-linked with each other. OSeMOSYS will be at the core of a set of enabling tools designed to disseminate and actively engage stakeholders, including a Pan-European (EU28 + Norway and Switzerland) Open-source Engagement Model.
  3. STRATEGO [finished], Heat Roadmap Europe 3 (HRE) was carried out as part of the STRATEGO project (  and  it  was  first  published  in  June  2015.  In  HRE3,  the  Heat  Roadmap  Europe methodology was transferred from EU level to Member State level. Instead of modelling the EU energy system as one country, individual models and maps were developed for five EU Member States: Czech Republic, Croatia, Italy,  Romania,  and  the  United  Kingdom.  The  results validated  the  same  recommendations  from  the  HRE2  study, demonstrating once again how a combination of heat savings, district heating, and heat pumps are the primary technologies required to cost-effectively decarbonise the heating sector. However, the HRE 3 study provides individual recommendations for each of these five Member States.


  1. OSeMOSYS is an open source modelling system for long-run integrated assessment and energy planning. It has been employed to develop energy systems models from the scale of continents (African Power Pools, South America, EU28+2) down to the scale of countries, regions and villages. Designed to require no upfront financial investment, a fast learning curve and little time commitment to operate, it is fit for use by communities of developers, modellers, academics up to policy makers.
    Thanks to its transparency, it is broadly employed as a training and dissemination tool. The Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) tool uses OSeMOSYS to generate optimal power generation scenarios. LEAP has a powerful and user friendly interface. LEAP compiles an input text file, runs OSeMOSYS, generates results and incorperating them into its easy to its powerful results viewing components.  See also the paper OSeMOSYS ... for a general introduction and OSeMOSYS Energy Modeling Using an Extended UTOPIA Model for a more detailed description a simple model. Another recent contribution based on OSeMOSYS is MELiSsa, a model with four goals: (i) extending the energy planning process of the region to citizens and experts usually not involved; (ii) exploiting this uncommon participation for a crowd-source development; (iii) providing a simple tool for interested local citizens to get consciousness of the technological and behavioral limits of their energy system; (iv) providing a real-case-based platform for interdisciplinary research and academic purposes possibly beyond the region boundaries. To facilitate the use of OSEMOSYS for capacity building and model-based planning, UNDESA and KTH-dESA (with support from the IAEA and Tartu University) are developing the OSeMOSYS Model Management Infrastructure (MoManI) interface. MoManI, is a browser-based open source interface for energy systems modelling. Available to all manner of users, from policy makers and energy planners through to academics, its novel structure allows different teams to collaborate simultaneously from around the globe. Each user can easily edit and update any part of the modelling process: from the underlying mathematical equations of OSeMOSYS through to the visualization of results.
  2. Temoa - Tools for Energy Model Optimization and Assessment is an open source modeling framework for conducting energy system analysis. The core component of Temoa is a technology explicit energy economy optimization model. It's similar in design to the MARKAL / TIMES model generators, OSeMOSYS, and MESSAGE. The energy system is described algebraically as a network of linked processes that convert a raw energy commodity (e.g., coal, oil, biomass, uranium) into an end-use demand (e.g., lighting, transport, water heating, conditioned air), often through a series of one or more intermediate commodities (e.g., electricity, gasoline, ethanol). Technologies are linked to one another in a network via model constraints representing the allowable flow of energy commodities. The model objective is to minimize the present cost of energy supply by deploying and utilizing energy technologies and commodities over time to meet a set of exogenously specified end-use demands.
    The design of Temoa is intended to fulfill a unique niche within the energy modeling community by addressing two critical shortcomings: an inability to conduct third party verification of published model-based results and the difficulty of conducting rigorous uncertainty analysis with large, complex models. 
    The Temoa energy system model is implemented with Pyomo, which is in turn written in Python. Consequently, Temoa will run on Linux, Mac, Windows, or any operating system that Pyomo supports.
  3. LEAP, the Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning System, is a widely-used software tool for energy policy analysis and climate change mitigation assessment developed at the Stockholm Environment Institute. LEAP has been adopted by thousands of organizations in more than 190 countries worldwide. Its users include government agencies, academics, non-governmental organizations, consulting companies, and energy utilities. It has been used at many different scales ranging from cities and states to national, regional and global applications. LEAP is fast becoming the de facto standard for countries undertaking integrated resource planning, greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation assessments, and Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) especially in the developing world, and many countries have also chosen to use LEAP as part of their commitment to report to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At least 32 countries used LEAP to create energy and emissions scenarios that were the basis for their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions on Climate Change (INDCs): the foundation of the historic Paris climate agreement intended to demonstrate the intent of countries to begin decarbonizing their economies and invest in climate-resilience.


  1. ECOSPEEDRegion


  1. The World Data Bank, an example of extended open data access
  2. The Global CLEWS model provides useful insights about the relationships among water, energy, climate, and land and material use at the global scale. It was developed to inform Rio+20 discussions and will soon be upgraded to provide useful insights about the interlinkages among climate, land, materials, energy and water underlying the relationships among many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The challenge of progressing towards the SDGs is best approached taking into account synergies and trade-offs among them.
  3. The Tool for Rapid Assessment of City Energy (TRACE)  is a decision-support tool designed to help cities quickly identify under-performing sectors, evaluate improvement and cost-saving potential, and prioritize sectors and actions for energy efficiency (EE) intervention. It covers six municipal sectors: passenger transport, municipal buildings, water and waste water, public lighting, solid waste, and power and heat. 
    TRACE consists of three modules: an energy benchmarking module which compares key performance indicators (KPIs) among peer cities, a sector prioritization module which identifies sectors that offer the greatest potential with respect to energy-cost savings, and an intervention selection module which functions like a “playbook” of tried-and-tested EE measures and helps select locally appropriate EE interventions.


  1. ENERGYDATA.INFO, Open data and analytics for a sustainable energy future (have a look at, e.g., the global solar atlas).

EU 'setup'

Model-based scenario quantification supports the European Commission in impact assessments and analysis of policy options. For Commission analyses at European Union and Member State level, support for such analysis is provided by regular calls for tender. The structure of the suite of tools used is complex.

See also the 'replacement' of PRIMES, POTEnCIA.