Energy System and Scenario Analysis Toolkit

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What analysis tools and methods can I use to study my country's energy system?


Quantitative analysis

Common models used for quantitative pathways analysis are usually divided among bottom-up, top-down and hybrid models which combine elements of each.

Source: Applications of MARKAL to Economic Impact Analyses. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Bottom-up models use data on technologies, fuels and related policies to analyze the costs and benefits of each potential technological decision, fuel choice or policy. They do not assume efficient markets and they can capture interactions between different technology and policy choices.
  • Top-down models use aggregrated data to look at costs and benefits of certain policies that are usually not technology specific, such as carbon taxes, to assess impacts on output, GDP and other macroeconomic factors. They can also capture feedback and interactions between sectors and often assume efficient markets. Since many of the policies examined in this stage will likely be technology specific it is recommended that a bottom-up model is used while a top-down model can be used in step 4.6 and the next stage to assess broader macroeconomic impacts.

Qualitative analysis

Scenario or pathways analysis can also be performed in a qualitative manner when data needs are a major constraint.

Guidance documents

The following literature provides useful background on the similarities and differences as well applications of pathways analysis models.

Quantitative models

Energy and Power Evaluation Program (ENPEP-BALANCE)
ENPEP-BALANCE is a software tool developed at Argonne National Laboratory that allows users to evaluate the entire energy system (supply and demand sides) and the environmental implications of different energy strategies.
The Advanced Energy System Analysis Computer Model, or EnergyPLAN, is a free model developed at the Aalborg University's Department of Development and Planning in Denmark. The model runs on Windows computers and optimizes national or regional energy systems. It is a deterministic model based on simulations in hourly time steps that helps answer questions about the impact of renewable energy targets and other energy regulations on a country or region's energy supply.
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Models
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis is an independent institution that conducts climate change, energy security, and sustainable development research. In the energy sector, the institute has developed several analytical tools for its research, which are described on the website and in publications available for download. The institute also provides access to greenhouse gas databases.
Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning System (LEAP)
LEAP is a Windows application for medium- to long-term energy planning and greenhouse gas mitigation assessment developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). It is used by government agencies, academics, non-governmental organizations, consulting companies, and energy utilities for integrated resource planning and greenhouse gas mitigation assessments from city-scale analyses to analyses on a national, regional, and global scale. The model can track energy consumption, production and resource extraction in all sectors of an economy, and can account for greenhouse gas emission sources and sinks in both the energy and non-energy sectors.
MARKet ALlocation (MARKAL)
MARKAL is a computer-driven, dynamic optimization model that uses upwards of 10,000 equations and constraints to foster strategic energy planning developed at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Object-Oriented Energy, Climate, and Technology Systems (ObjECTS) Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM)
"GCAM is a partial equilibrium model of the world with 14 regions. GCAM is used to project energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and to investigate the impact of climate change policies and technologies for emissions mitigation. GCAM includes an agriculture land-use module and a reduced-form carbon cycle and climate module. It also addresses demographics, resources, and energy production and consumption." - Source:

Qualitative methods

The following table provides a list of common tools used for pathways analysis in developing countries. You can use the information on data requirements, outputs and example products to help choose a pathways analysis model or method for your country. The next tab also includes information on available training materials and international support services for use of the tools.

Tool Input Requirements Results Adaptability
Name Sector Type Data Needs Cost Experience Output Example Product Transparency and Clarity
LEAP - Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning System Energy Bottom-up, Accounting Framework Low - Model includes the Technology and Environmental Database (TED) which has energy technology data for performance and cost as well as environmental impacts for many technologies. Model also includes IPCC emission factors and energy and GHG baselines. Free Low – Free online training materials, 5 day training ($5000) Integrated energy and GHG scenarios - showing interactions between different policies and measures, transformation analysis, social cost benefit analysis World Bank low carbon growth country study model for Mexico - pg. 13 High High - applied in 85
MARKAL-TIMES-MARKet ALlocation Figure 1 Energy Bottom-up, Optimization Model (there are also a number of hybrid MARKAL models such as MARKAL-MACRO) Medium - Technology cost and performance data, input cost and price elasticity supply side data (e.g., fuel), market demand side data, emission inventory and emission factors $8500-$15,000 Medium - 8 day training – $30-40,000 Integrated energy economy and GHG scenarios - Estimates of energy prices and demand, marginal value of technologies within the system, fuel and technology mixes, GHG emissions and mitigation costs, optimizes investment in the economy and maximizes consumer welfare World Bank low carbon growth country study model for South Africa - pg. 13 Medium High - applied in over 30 countries for complete energy system (can be adapted for rural economy)
ENPEP BALANCE- Energy and Power Evaluation Program Energy Simulation Model Medium – baseline energy statistics (pro-duction and consumption), structure of energy system, projected en-ergy demand, technical and policy data,

emission factor defaults included

Free Medium - 5 day training - $10,000 Integrated energy and GHG scenarios - Energy system responses to change in price and demand, GHG emissions and local air pollutants Zambia Long Term Generation Expansion Study
Model for Energy Supply System Alternatives and their General Environmental Impacts (MESSAGE) Energy Hybrid, Energy supply-economy-climate model Energy supply and demand data, technology cost and performance, policy and technology constraints Primary and final energy mix, emissions and waste streams, health and environmental impacts, resource use, land use, import dependence, investment requirement Application of the MESSAGE model in Greater Mekong Subregion
RETScreen Energy Renewable energy climate decision model

Data requirements are an important consideration in choosing the model or method to be used for pathways or energy system analysis. As noted some models and methods are much more data intensive than others.

At a minimum, energy supply and demand data as well as IPCC emission factors and GHG baselines are often required. LEAP is a model with very low data requirements as it includes a technology and environment database (TED) with cost and performance data for energy technologies as well as IPCC emission factors and energy and GHG baselines.

Other models are much more data intensive such as hybrids that combine top-down and bottom-up models requiring both engineering and input-output data for the economy.

Data sources

The following data sources provide a starting point for understanding which models or methods might be most appropriate for your country. In the next tab, these data are matched to models to help with the model choice process.

GHG emissions data

Economic data

Energy system statistics

The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration Country Energy Profiles website provides access to official U.S. government energy statistics for 215 countries. The statistics include crude oil production, oil consumption, natural gas production and consumption, electricity generation and consumption, primary energy, energy intensity, carbon dioxide emissions, and fuel imports and exports for each country. In addition, Country Analysis Briefs are availalbe for 54 countries.
Energy flow charts developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory show the relative size of primary energy resources and end uses in the United States, with fuels compared on a common energy unit basis. Similar energy flow charts can be developed for other countries to feed into energy system modeling activities.
Ecofys country fact sheets updated in December 2009 provide information on greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, sectoral trends, emission reduction costs and climate policies for 61 countries as well as for the world, Annex I and non Annex I countries.
Ecofys is working to develop templates to assist developing countries in planning sectoral emission baselines under a post-Kyoto climate regime.

Energy technology cost and performance data

This NREL webpage presents a graph published in May 2009 indicating the recent cost estimates and capacity factors for renewable and other energy technologies.
This databook provide cost and performance characterizations for a number of clean energy technologies
The Renewables Global Status Report prepared by the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) describes the status of renewable energy investment and installations worldwide.
These data indicates the range of recent cost estimates for renewable energy and other technologies.
Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology
Power Technologies
Tool Training and Support Resources

Below is a listing of training and other resources to support the use of common pathways analysis models presented in the previous tab.

Tool Software Data Training resources and user guides Case studies and lessons learned
MARKAL Information on obtaining the software Country-specific database contacts Energy technology data source Introductions and overviews National Model Applications

International Support Programs

The following international programs support pathways analysis activities in developing countries.

LBNL Climate Change and International Studies
The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (LBL) Climate Change and International Studies website provides a list of climate change, country study, energy efficiency standards, and industrial energy analysis projects of the laboratory.
NREL International Activities Bilateral Partnerships
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) International Bilateral Partnerships website lists and describes the laboratory's international activities in different countries and regions of the world. The website also provides access to websites describing other NREL international activities.
PNNL Advanced International Studies Unit Energy Efficiency Centers
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Energy Efficiency Centers website lists the six independent energy efficiency centers that the laboratory's Advanced International Studies Unit helped to establish. The website includes links to each of the center's website and to a publication describing the centers.

Search all resources

Below you can search all pathways analysis training materials included in the Energy System and Scenario Analysis Toolkit.