Electricity market game

At KTH we are running a 6 credit MSc course on “Energy System Economics, Modelling and Indicators for Sustainable Energy Development” (MJ2383).

For one of our computer labs, we would like to run an energy trading game. So far, we’ve discovered the Stanford energy market game, which has a website and Python backend. However, the code isn’t available and the website is super slow, not really feasible for our Zoom classroom setting.

We are leaning towards a pen-and-paper approach (over Zoom) with a master spreadsheet/auction clearing system to keep track of the scores.

We’ve about a month to organise this, so looking for ideas from the community. Has anyone else run one of these sessions? Any hints or tips?

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Hi @willu47: Can you modify one of the open‑source agent‑based electricity market simulation models to have it call out to external decision-makers and wait for their responses? In the very worst case, you could share a single terminal and have the bidders type their information in sequentially for each period.

By the way, such simulations were run in New Zealand prior to the introduction of wholesale electricity nodal pricing in 1996. And apparently, gaming on constraints invariably emerged during these trials. Later on, this behavior was evident in the real system. I guess that should not really come as a surprise?

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Hi Will,
you could ask Laurens de Vries whether he would be willing to share their game / make it open source?
If you want, I could drop him a mail and put you in cc (can you private-mesage me your address?), as I am also contemplating to use such a game in the years to come (won’t have time this year, but more as a long term goal). If anyone else would be interested, just “like” this post and private-mail me your address, then I will put you in cc.
Many greetings,
Christian Winzer

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Hi again - Laurens just told me, that their game is not open source because they need the revenues from selling instances to maintain and improve the code (to accomodate changes in browsers and other software packages)… however, classroom licenses are available for EUR 1000 per game instance and could be reduced if the user base increases. Many greetings!

Dear all,
We have a very popular electricity market simulation game, but unfortunately it is not open source. We sell instances and use all the revenues to pay for software maintenance and continuous improvement of the game. In the game, teams of students operate competing electricity companies, bidding their generators into the market, making investment decisions and dealing with policy changes due to a CO2 market. The students love the game, often referring to it later as one of the best parts of their curriculum. I can give you more information, or tell you about it in a meeting, and provide a free try-out version if you are interested.
With kind regards,
Laurens de Vries (l.j.devries@tudelft.nl)

Hi Will,
We have used the Stanford electricity market game for a ZOOM-based session last semester with great success. Indeed, the source code is not available, but we have worked with Trevor from Stanford to also create some variants of the game that reflect more the European situation. These variants should be available to you as well under the “Zurich” label. We did not find the game being slow or unsuitable for ZOOM, so I would be happy to exchange details about our approach if you would be interested.
Best regards,

Hi Will,

maybe you could have a look at PowerTAC, even though it might be a bit too much for your purposes. You can set up your own servers and have different brokers compete against each other. The code is on github. Also check out the wiki to get started. It is mostly Java but seems to have an interface for other languages, which I haven’t used yet: https://github.com/powertac/broker-adapter-grpc


Dear @willu47,

I have implemented a simple pen-and-paper + spreadsheet approach for my course on “Renewable Energy Systems”. It works like an old-style roleplay game. Every student/group gets a card with information on how their technology can bid in the market.

Then, they make their offers, and we clear the market. We repeat this for 5 different hours with various weather situations. I input the bids from different participants in the spreadsheet that I project in the screen and students calculate their revenues, costs and benefits.

I attach here the instructions for the players and the master (system operator), feel welcome to reuse what you find useful. You will see that it is nothing fancy but, in my experience, it is very effective.

Roleplay_electricity_markets.zip (251.1 KB)

Usually, I run this game before explaining the theory of electricity markets and their flaws. Then, while I’m explaining the theory, I can refer to their experience in the game so that it becomes less abstract.

One extra benefit of the spreadsheet is that I later make the file available with the bids by every technology and ask the students to reflect on what has been the strategy of every player.

As @LaurensDeVries mentioned, students love this game, so it is a great idea to include it in the curriculum. Good luck with it!



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Hi @marta.victoria (and everyone above who’s replied);

Thanks so much for the ideas and suggestions. Marta, we will take up your very kind offer and sharing of your teaching material - thank you so much. Do you have a suggestion for how we could attribute this to you (is there a paper or equivalent to cite)? And if we can make an extension to the material or contribute back, how we could do this?

We plan to get our students to work in groups, they will self-organise - one will take the role of system operator, and the others can be generators. I’m really looking forward to seeing how their bidding strategies develop over the course of the game.

Do you have any immediate ideas for how we could extend this? Perhaps, a carbon tax, contracts for differences, a carbon market, or renewable certificate trading?

Thanks again.

@sbirk - PowerTAC looks very comprehensive (and open-source), and something I would like to explore, but I think you are correct when you say it is a bit too much for our current needs.

@LaurensDeVries - many thanks for letting me know about your game. I cannot justify the teaching budget for a game I will use just once per year, so unfortunately won’t be able to support your efforts. But good luck!

Will :slight_smile:

Hi @willu47,

There is no paper to cite, you can just make some aknowledgement in the materials that you prepare.

I would suggest that you share in this thread your learnings and possible extensions.

We can also arrange a do-a-thon in the next OpenMod workshop (whenever this happens) in which we share our teaching experiences and implement a way of sharing materials and collaborate on them.

At least, I plan to upload this pen-and-paper game to a public github repo when I have some time.



I’m the lead programmer of PESD (Stanford)'s Energy Market Game. Although not all of our (almost) one thousand registered users around the world e-mail us about their use of the game we’ve received positive feedback this year about the game being used in ZOOM-based classrooms and workshops at ETH Zurich, Monash, Stanford, the Singapore Green Finance Centre, and the Asian Development Bank. Also, last month (Nov. 2020) we migrated the Energy Market Game over to a brand new server which is much faster than the previous one we had been using for the past six years. We’re looking forward to making the game a core part of our Energy Markets course that we’ll be teaching via ZOOM this winter at the Stanford Business School.

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Hi @trevor.l.davis - ah, that’s great news. Thanks for letting us know - I’ll be sure to check out the game again for our course next year.

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