OSeMOSYS is a free, open source and accessible energy systems model generator. It can generate small village energy models to global multi-resource integrated assessment tools. It can be used to assess energy supply security, investment outlooks, and GHG mitigation strategies.
In general terms, it calculates what investments to make, when, at what capacity and how to operate them to meet the said policy target(s) at the lowest cost.
It is therefore used to develop models to inform policy design and is part of the largest Horizon 2020 LCE21 energy modelling research effort REEEM.org. Furthermore, it is used to underpin selected outputs of the DG Energy InsightEnergy.org think tank, and is used by national governments in the EC and beyond for medium to long-term planning. Outside of Europe, it was used for the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Therein the development (and trade between) the electricity sector of every African country was analysed. In the former, the focus was understanding the climate resilience of the system under different futures. In the latter, the scale of investment for the world’s fastest growing continent was quantified. A similar effort for South America is being used to understand that continent’s infrastructure development. Models generated have been broad and useful.
OSeMOSYS.org was launched at Oxford University in 2011 at a UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) meeting and included co-authors from University College London (UCL), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), University of Cape Town (UCT), Stanford University, the Paul Scherrer Instituteand others. It was in response to the observation that all countries need to assess the quantitative evolution of their energy sectors due to energy’s highly strategic role in development. At the time there were no open source optimising energy system model generators available to do so. All aspects of the tool are open, this includes the code, the mathematical programming language and the solvers used.
Currently administered by KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) its uptake in an academic setting is accelerating. Scores of universities, academic papers and a growing number of governments are taking the tool up to use in academic and real-world analysis. This bodes well, as the community contributing to its development both grows and adds critically academically reviewed advances. Importantly, it also ensures that there are a multitude of ‘service providers’ should commissioned studies need to be undertaken.
It also features as part of a broader initiative (called Optimus Community) led by the UN. Further starter data-sets and off the shelf models are being developed to help make open reviewed data available to be built on rapidly. Initial data sets being developed include all EU, African and South American countries. The aim is to cover the globe with peer-reviewed open access data.
While there is a growing community of users and applications, a special focus is Europe. Focusing on the SET-Plan, at the heart of the REEEM.org project are integrated European energy system models. One of the tools being developed is an OSeMOSYS generated model. That model (together with a more detailed MARKAL-TIMES model developed by the University of Stuttgart) will determine the cost optimal technology pathway to match supply with demand in all EU countries in technological detail. It will provide the backbone to a tailored evaluation of the impact of SET-Plan technologies.
To do so, information from several other models is being integrated. The OSeMOSYS-generated model will focus on being an open-source engagement tool. It will replicate and highlight the key underlying dynamics of the integrated European energy system. (This will be complemented by e-learning tools to build capacities and share expertise based on the assessments performed in this project.) It will enable answers to questions like what research funding and increased investment cost would be required to meet SET-Plan objectives, in addition to setting out detailed sub-targets - and their implications.
The model generator can be downloaded from OSeMOSYS.org. Therein, resources, papers, data sets and code in the free mathematical programming language GNUMathProg can also be downloaded. Recently the code has been translated into more than one language (or ‘technology’) and is currently available in GAMS (a popular language amongst economists) and Python (a widely used open source language). You can sign up to the OSeMOSYS newsletter on the website, where tools are also available to download. Furthermore, in the next few weeks a new interface is to be released, and a global summer school is to be launched.
Mark Howells directs the division and holds the chair of Energy Systems Analysis (KTH-dESA) at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. His group leads the development of some of the world's premier open source energy, resource and spatial electrification planning tools; he has published in Nature Journals; coordinates the European Commission's think tank for Energy; is regularly used by the United Nations as a science-policy expert; and is a key contributor to UNDESA's 'Modelling Tools for Sustainable Development Policies'.