Am happy to take feedback, be it via public replies or private messages.
I occasionally hear that energy system models are too complicated for the wider public to understand. So in response, here are three models — or model frameworks if you prefer that terminology — that have been developed by small NGOs, broadly outside of academia, to examine energy system options within their particular geographical regions.
The models covered comprise (status mid‑2021):
|EnergyShouldBe||Colorado, USA||MIT||Microsoft Excel||active|
|SIREN||Western Australia||AGPL‑3.0‑or‑later||Python||active, relies on SAM|
|100prosim||state and federal Germany||not known||Microsoft Excel||currently migrating to oemof|
The full name of the model is the Hourly Electric Reliability With Lots of Renewables Model and falls under the umbrella of EnergyShouldBe.org. This spreadsheet model is being developed by Ken Regelson and its insights are used by the Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES). The model is deployed to explore near‑100% renewables uptake for the US state of Colorado (CRES 2019). Analysis indicates that very high shares of renewables plus grid and domestic battery storage are both feasible and should result in substantially lower household utility bills and carbon emissions, relative to less ambitious targets. And in more detail, how the Platte River Power Authority could substitute a planned 104 MW natural gas peaking station with a portfolio of non‑fossil alternatives (Miller 2021). The model is available for download and has been deployed elsewhere.
SIREN stands for SEN Integrated Renewable Energy Network Toolkit. SIREN is a Python model developed to explore sustainable energy options for Western Australia by the Sustainable Energy Now (SEN) NGO based in Perth, Australia. The framework is described in Rose (2016). SIREN relies on calculations performed by the System Advisor Model, the latter published by NREL and documented by Freeman et al (2018). SIREN is also supported by academics as indicated on the SEN website. More details about SIREN on wikipedia, including a link to the active code repository on SourceForge.
100prosim is a spreadsheet model developed by the German NGO Erneuerbare Energie-Szenarien (ErnES) or Renewable Energy Scenarios. 100prosim has supported studies at the state and federal level for Germany, reported as Purper et al (2017) and Kralemann (2018) respectively. As of mid‑2021, ErnES is migrating the 100prosim model from Excel to the oemof framework.
There is no doubt that motivated individuals and teams within niche NGOs can write and run energy system models. Normally the people involved have strong backgrounds in engineering or related STEM disciplines and have often extensive work histories within the energy sector.
Some niche NGOs are now migrating to more established modeling projects to gain the benefits of collaborative development and more sophisticated design. It remains to be seen if non‑niche NGOs will also adopt open analysis using in‑house or external resources. Attempts within this community in 2019 and 2020 to bridge with established NGOs came to naught. Notwithstanding, the context is rapidly changing and detailed public interest analysis by NGOs is now increasingly feasible and arguably compelling.
CRES (26 August 2019). Reliable, cheap, 100% renewable energy by 2030 — Presentation by Ken Regelson. Fort Collins, Colorado, USA: Colorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES). YouTube video. 01:21:20. Recorded at 12 June 2019 meeting of the Boulder Chapter of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society.
ErnES (ongoing). Erneuerbare Energie-Szenarien e.V. [Renewable Energy Scenarios e.V.] (in German).
Freeman, Janine M, Nicholas A DiOrio, Nathan J Blair, Ty W Neises, Michael J Wagner, Paul Gilman, and Steven Janzou (2018). System Advisor Model (SAM) general description — Version 2017.9.5 — NREL/TP-6A20-70414. Golden, Colorado, USA: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). doi:10.2172/1440404.
Kralemann, Michael (February 2018). BUND Szenario: Energieversorgung in Niedersachsen im Jahr 2050 [FOE Germany scenario: energy supply in Lower Saxony in the year 2050] (in German). Germany: Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) and Landesverband Niedersachsen.
Miller, Kirya (30 March 2021). Modeling alternatives to buying more natural gas generation for Platte River Power Authority. Colorado, USA: EnergyShouldBe. YouTube video 00:20:43. Creative Commons CC‑BY‑3.0 license. (Summary video of length 00:06:54.)
Purper, Gabriele, Werner Neumann, and Mitglieder des AK Energie (November 2017). Konzept für eine zukunftsfähige Energieversorgung [Concept for a sustainable energy supply] (in German). Berlin, Germany: Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND).
Rose, Ben (April 2016). Clean electricity Western Australia 2030: modelling renewable energy scenarios for the South West Integrated System. West Perth, WA, Australia: Sustainable Energy Now.
Sustainable Energy Now (2017). Modelling overview: the SIREN toolkit and more. Perth, Australia: Sustainable Energy Now (SEN).