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Energy Systems Modeling

SETIS Magazine, 
November 2016

ewi Energy Research & Scenarios is a non-profit organization focussing on applied economic research on energy markets and energy policy. We have a team of about 35 people, many of them simultaneously pursuing their PhD at the University of Cologne. Besides conducting research projects, we also offer research and development support as well as economic advice to government, organisations and companies. Thus, we regularly provide decision-makers with sound quantitative support based on our strong economic and modelling expertise.

What role do energy system models play in your research?

Energy system models are at the analytical core of our research. We run, and continuously improve, models of global fuel markets as well as the European electricity, gas, and heat markets. The distinctive feature of our modelling approach is the strong emphasis on economic theory alongside a deep understanding of the relevant technologies. Thus, the insights generated from our models reveal important findings about economic interdependencies and effects on top of mere technology-based analysis.

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Energy system modelling is a key tool for EDF R&D. It is used to evaluate the impact of energy policies (renewable deployment, EU ETS), to recommend business strategies and analyse business opportunities based on evolutions in the energy/power systems and to contribute to the public debate.

Energy system models help us understand the impact of making changes to the energy system before we make them. The insights tend to vary significantly depending on the time-horizon in question. Some models focus on the short-term (years ahead) so they usually model existing technologies within existing financial frameworks...

METIS is a research project) of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER) for the development of energy simulator software with the aim to further support ENER’s evidence-based policy-making. It is developed by a consortium (Artelys, IAEW, ConGas and Frontier Economics) as part of Horizons 2020 and is closely followed by DG ENER.

In the past, the main use of academic and policy-led energy models was to understand the flows of traditional energy resources in the contexts of value for money and security of supply.

Given the uncertainty and complexity of the energy system, quantitative models are vital tools to explore alternative scenarios and help guide public policy. Yet most models and data remain inscrutable “black boxes” – whether small econometric models or large linear optimisation models with hundreds of thousands of input variables.

Energy systems have evolved from individual systems with little or no dependencies into a complex set of integrated systems at scales that include customers, cities, and regions. This evolution has been driven by political, economic, and environmental objectives.

The Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives (NETP) series assesses how the Nordic region can achieve a carbon-neutral energy system by 2050. NETP 2016 marks the second edition in the series, the first having been published in 2013, and presents technology pathways towards a near-zero emission Nordic energy system in addition to in-depth scenarios tailored to inform policy-making in the region.

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.

A key challenge in achieving a successful transition to a low-carbon Europe is implementing the correct suite of policy measures that are based on robust evidence. Today policy-makers across Europe draw on integrated energy system models to inform long range climate mitigation and energy policy choices.

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