North America openmod workshop series

There was some backroom chatter about a North American openmod workshop series, paticularly focused on the open data side of things.

We could start a small workshop with a willing host, then see how it goes.

Perhaps the first step would be to organise a teleconference of willing participants to gauge interest and find a host? If you’re interested, drop me an email or pipe up here.

I am interested in NA workshops. Can’t host it this year but perhaps next year.

  • Ranjit
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We had the idea of using the next OpenMod Workshop in Aarhus (May 22-24, 2019) to learn about open modelling approaches in North America so we will have a keynote session where we have invited a researcher from NREL (they have confirmed that they will participate but it is still not fixed who will be speaker, we will announce it later).

It could be a good opportunity to strengthen links between energy modellers on both sides of the Atlantic.


I’ve put up a doodle-type Google spreadsheet for people to indicate their availability for a 1-hour teleconference on Tuesday 12th or Wednesday 13th February 2019 to discuss holding a North American openmod workshop.



Tuesday 12 February 2019
2000 CET, 1900 UTC, 1400 EST, 1100 PST, 0900 HST

Log-in details for the call:

Germany: +49 221 98203406
US and Canada: +1 605-313-4123
International dial-in numbers:

Access code: 758061#
Online meeting ID: tom_brown7

Join the online meeting:

Original agenda

  1. Introduction to openmod and openmod workshops (see also this guide to holding a workshop - it’s not that much effort!)
  2. Discussion of any considerations specific to North America? (e.g. long travel distances, focus on data rather than software?)
  3. Is there interest in holding a first small workshop (e.g. 20-30 people)?
  4. Discuss potential volunteers to hold the first workshop. Could be held near other events, e.g. INFORMS 2019 in Seattle October 20-23, or the ESIG Fall Workshop in Charlotte, NC, October 28-30.
  5. Any other open points.

Further agenda items

Please make suggestions — this post is wiki-editable by anyone logged in.

  1. openmod/ NGO bridge between the open energy system modeling community and energy and climate NGOs to encourage NGOs to use open analysis and perhaps even build online satellite communities to do so (more) @robbie.morrison
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Hi Tom, thank you for the initiative :-)!

How about if we integrate the 1st North America Workshop into the 10th Workshop in Autumn?
Advantages could be:

  • the easiest way to start with Openmod is to join an existing workshop
  • a joint workshop would allow modelers from both regions to exchange ideas
  • it could be a nice (and symbolic :-)) test-case for our first zeroCarbon, virtual workshop (“Openmod goes Global”)

Of course, there may also be disadvantages… any case, it wouldn’t harm if people want to first go ahead with a physical North American meeting, as the option of joining virtual conferences is not affected by that.

Many greetings,


Minutes of the teleconference at 1900 UTC on Tuesday 12th February 2019


Tom Brown (KIT). Matthias Fripp (Uni Hawaii), Robbie Morrison (Berlin), Taco Niet (BCIT), Oleg Lugovoy (, Christina Gosnell (Catalyst Cooperative), Steven Winter (Catalyst Cooperative), Jesse Jenkins (Harvard), Greg Schivley, Fabian Neumann (KIT), Ranjit Deshmukh (UCSB), Joe DeCarolis (NCSU), Clayton Barrows (NREL)


  • Tom introduced openmod and the workshop concept (lightning talks, breakout groups, self-organisation)
  • North America specific concerns for hosting? Center of gravity? Modellers fairly evenly spread, but East Coast is easier for any participating people based in Europe.
  • Floor was opened for potential hosts for the first North American workshop
  • Clayton said that NREL might be able to host in Boulder, Colorado in summer or at least before 1st October 2019. NREL had anyway plans to convene a workshop to discuss energy modelling. Clayton has to check details with NREL management. The workshop could run under the openmod banner.
  • Joe offered NCSU as an alternative/backup, but would need to check dates carefully. There might be a possibility to tie in with the ESIG Fall 2019 workshop in Charlotte, NC, October 28-30.
  • INFORMS 2019 in Seattle in October 2019 might not be suitable for a tie-in since it is very optimization focused. On other hand, EMP will be hosted there.
  • Floor was opened to offers to host in 2020.
  • Matthias offered Hawaii as possibility for 2020.
  • Ranjit offered UCSB as possibility for 2020.
  • Taco offered BCIT as possibility.
  • Oleg offered possibility of EDF offices in DC/New York/San Francisco.
  • A North American workshop could involve tutorials and other contributions from Pyomo developers at Sandia and JuMP developers at MIT. Also PowerModels.jl team.
  • Robbie discussed possibility of awakening NGOs to open energy modelling. Many use consultants with closed models. But open models is half the battle, you also need people to operate them. Example of RESOLVE model (via FTP server) based on Matthias’s Switch model, which is run by E3 for consulting.
  • Brief discussion of licencing and data intellectual property rights in continental Europe versus UK versus US versus Canada.
  • Jesse asked to define 2-3 outcomes/purposes for the meeting. Tom explained that openmod has declined in past to give specific purposes to meetings, but rather allows people to bring their own purposes and discussion topics to the meeting. This reduces burden on organiser and allows more flexibility. Past concrete outcomes of decentral breakout groups have been papers on open energy modelling, datasets, code, visualisation, howtos, other collaborations, and lobbying efforts. Additional benefits include bringing modellers together to discuss modelling in an open environment, promoting openness in energy research, etc.

Next steps

  • Clayton will ask at NREL about hosting the openmod workshop in summer/autumn 2019.
  • If successful, we can hold another call to help with organisation.
  • If not successful, Joe offered NCSU as a backup. Joe can look in his calendar / ask management and get back to us.
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Following the telco on Tuesday 12th February hosted by Tom Brown. I have confirmed that NREL would like to host an Open-Mod North America Workshop. There are some restrictions on the availability of conference rooms. Proposed dates follow:

  • Location: National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Golden, CO
  • Dates:
    • Option 1: August 12-13, 2019 (potential to extend to the 14th depending on flexibility of conference room schedules)
    • Option 2: September 30 – October 3, 2019

The facility that I am proposing consists of a set of rooms that can be consolidated into a single room (max occupancy 170) or divided into three rooms. Additional smaller rooms could be available if needed.

Does anyone have any questions or feedback on dates, or should we schedule another telco?


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We could organise a poll for the 3 options:

  • August 12-13, 2019
  • September 30 - October 1, 2019
  • October 2-3, 2019

and decide that way? I can set the poll up if you agree @claytonpbarrows.

Can the room be re-configured between one room and three rooms quickly? This would be good for switching between plenary sessions and the breakout groups.

In the past we’ve restricted the number of people attending to 60-70 because otherwise the breakout groups become unmanageable (and I guess catering becomes expensive), but the host is dictator for the event so you can decide how best to handle this :slight_smile:.

@tom_brown the poll idea sounds good.

As long as we know the schedule beforehand, the room can be reconfigured in 5-10 minutes between sessions.

I think that ~70 is a good upper limit for attendees.

One other (minor) concern is Department of Energy policy on foreign national visitors requires an extra visitor form for each visitor. This quite easy and can be completed in <5 business days, except for visitors from Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria where the approval time is considerably longer and more difficult.

If you are thinking of attending the 1st North American Open Energy Modelling Initiative Workshop at NREL in Boulder, Colorado, please indicate your availability for the following dates (you can choose multiple dates). The poll closes February 22, 2019 at midnight Hawaii Standard Time.

  1. August 12-13, 2019
  2. September 30 - October 1, 2019
  3. October 2-3, 2019

0 voters

We (Catalyst Cooperative) intend to have someone attend. There’s another couple of groups nearby that I think could be good to get there. OpenEI is a CKAN based open energy data archiving service that’s run out of NREL, which in theory could be a good home for OPSD style inputs to energy models. We’re talking with them about hosting the PUDL outputs. And then Pangeo is a cloud based platform developed by the geoscience community, including a bunch of folks at NCAR in Boulder (just up the road from Golden) which hosts large, frequently used datasets in proximity to computational resources that can be accessed remotely through Jupyter notebooks cloned directly from GitHub repos. Catalyst is working with them to get an energy system modeling collection hosted for use by OpenMod type researchers. I think it would be great if we could have a workshop of some kind demonstrating how to use the system for energy system modeling… What do other folks think about inviting these folks to participate?


I apologize, but I overlooked some logistical challenges here at NREL for the previously proposed dates, mostly due to the availability of suitable conference rooms. Since the polling indicated a preference for later dates, I’ve found available space on the dates of September 18-20. Unless a fundamental conflict is identified for those dates, I’d like to propose:
Open-Mod North American Workshop at NREL
Golden, Colorado
September 18-20 2019

What do you think?

Openmod North American Workshop at NREL

Venue: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colorado, USA.

The following poll will run for just over two weeks. It will close on Sunday 17 March 2019 at midnight Hawaii Standard Time (HST).

11 March 2019: Poll deleted, please refer to traffic below regarding dates.

I’m not sure there’s much point in holding a poll if 18-20 September 2019 is the best date for NREL - as host, they can decide. We only held a poll before because there were multiple dates. I’d suggest to close the poll and announce a “save the date” on the mailing list for 18-20 September. The only thing to decide would be whether to run it for 3 days (like the more recent workshops) or 2 days (like the older workshops) - it depends how much of a commitment you want to force people to make versus the benefit of a longer workshop. It might be better to keep it shorter for the first one, I don’t know. What do you think @claytonpbarrows?

I’m inclined to plan for two days on the 18-19, and if there is sufficient interest, we could host additional do-a-thons on the 20th. It seems like there will be sufficient interest to pack a schedule. But, since I haven’t attended a previous event, I’m not sure how to make this decision.

I think it’s fine to keep it short and leave them begging for more. This is better than making it over-long for the first time and boring folk. Alternatively you could do midday 18th to midday 20th to allow people time to arrive in morning and depart in afternoon. Up to you, I don’t know how far people will be coming.

Hi All - Sept 18-20 sounds like a good plan. I think midday on the 18th to midday on the 20th is a great idea as that makes flights easier. Do we have any other details at this point? Anything I can do to help with organizing things?

All, the September 18-19 dates for the 1st North American workshop are set. Please see the wiki page for more information. I’ll update the wiki regularly as information about hotels, registration, and the agenda becomes available.

Please let me know if you have questions.

Hi All - I’ve put the dates in my calendar - I’m looking forward to the event!
I would enjoy a session on model validation and best practices, if that’s of interest to others… There’s been some pieces discussed at previous workshops but I think there’s still significant space for additional work. What’s the process/place to add ideas for workshops?

@tniet Normally potential sessions for upcoming workshops are advised and debated on this forum. Simply create a new topic (thread) under the category Workshop and tag nrel-2019. Then optionally add existing tags or create new tags that relate to the theme of the proposal. A list of tags can be found here, else make a new one. Tags, by convention, are hyphen‑separated and lower case. You can add and change categories and tabs by editing the title of the topic and then clicking on the green tick mark (easy to miss that last step). Message me if you need help. In due course, the workshop organizers will select and arrange the proposed sessions and transfer this information to the openmod wiki as the event program becomes firm.

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