EU Open Source Policy Summit 2022 and the Open Energy Modelling Initiatve

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Robbie Morrison

Nov 28, 2021, 12:12:52 PM11/28/21
to OpenForum Europe (events), openmod list

Hello OpenForum Europe (with cc to the openmod mailing list)

I write in relation to the EU Open Source Policy Summit 2022.

And I write, completely unsolicited, on behalf of the Open Energy Modelling Initiative, or "openmod" for short (more soon).

And I note that climate change heads the list of grand challenges in the event preamble.

By way of introduction for myself, please note:

I write because the Summit organizers might like to consider someone from the openmod community to speak or to host a session. Our community has been working hard on decarbonization pathways using open source methods, for some as far back as 2003. Regarding the type of projects, an incomplete list of energy system modelling frameworks can be found on wikipedia. The openmod community has also been pushing hard for genuinely open data. In this regard, I will forward an open letter addressed to the International Energy Agency in a few days times as one example (the reason for that delay being that the letter is still in preparation).

The Summit organizers can find further background on the openmod community again on wikipedia. And from there you can follow the links to our mailing list and discussion forum.

It is difficult to estimate the size of our community but 190 participants attended our last three day physical workshop in Berlin and our mailing list and discussion server currently number about 800 registrations each. The geometric mid‑point between our physical and online presence therefore yields say 400 analysts. The openmod itself has no legal standing and no formal membership.

I am clearly not the right person to present at the Summit, but there are certainly participants in the openmod community that could easily and productively do so.   Hence this email.

Regarding the event agenda, in my view, it would be useful to add open data and open data standards. There was no mention of "data" in the event preamble. For energy system modelers, questions related to software licensing and open source development are completely resolved for all practical purposes. But data access, licensing, standards, curation, and governance taken together provide a major impediment to robust analytics. Indeed, the free software community have been slow to take on open data as well — and that bright line between code and data is non‑existent when providing numerical support for public policy.

looking forward to your reply and more than happy to act as an initial bridge with the openmod community

with best wishes, Robbie

Robbie Morrison
Address: Schillerstrasse 85, 10627 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49.30.612-87617

Robbie Morrison

Dec 9, 2021, 6:22:34 AM12/9/21

Hello all

Just an update.  I am currently following up with Giulia Guadagnoli, Senior Policy Advisor, OpenForum Europe.  We won't get a slot at their upcoming event but they are interested hearing about the work in this community.

More on OpenForum Europe FYI:


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Robbie Morrison

Dec 14, 2021, 1:19:28 PM12/14/21
to, Giulia Guadagnoli

Hi all (and hi Giulia)

I chatted with Giulia today (14‑Dec‑2021) by video link. Here is a report — which I am certainly not suggesting people read — rather this post is in the interests of transparency

Giulia Guadagnoli works for OpenForum Europe and is an econometrician by training. She was particularly wanting to hear of experiences from within this community that would support open source, standards, hardware, data, and science. Her particular interests are the potential benefits of open standards on competition and the economic appraisal of open standards more generally. Other analysts in the organization focus on public sector issues, including data exchange and agreed APIs.

A couple of themes first, that I underscored on behalf of public interest energy system analysis:

  • public interest information is our lifeblood and open standards covering data are central

  • we need suitable open licenses on the data itself to provide legal certainty — normally preferring CC‑BY‑4.0 for primary data and CC0‑1.0 for metadata

  • some classes of information require high levels of detail (often engineering‑based) while other classes need only be representative (often cost‑related)

Regarding Giulia's question on the contribution of open source software to sustainability (in the widest sense of that term), I responded:

  • for energy system analysis the benefits are clear — indeed I would suggest that we are approaching the point whereby closed‑door consortium projects and single institute models will either have to be open sourced or loose ground and status

  • for the smart energy systems specifically, the key issue is open information exchange standards — for which cooperating on implementation normally yields advantages and is one where open source can clearly assist

  • open source software can also contribute to device longevity — a gain usually worth having but still minor

I also indicated that in relation to business‑to‑business (B2B) activities — such as smart grids — that public interest information from those systems needs to explicitly surface, be processed, and somehow return to the underlying systems to inform structural and operational decisions. Indeed, without explicit loops and drivers, the notion that smart grids will naturally contribute to climate protection is extremely thin in my view. How exactly to build in such mechanisms is the challenge of course.

I stressed the idea that public interest information to support climate policy must be open, usable, and properly licensed:

  • if some classes of information are missing or legally unusable in the case of energy policy analysis — then the identified net‑zero trajectories will be less accurate, lower performing, and more expensive

  • the notion of expense should cover climate‑change‑related loss and damage as well

  • the differential between the forgone monetarization of that information and the social benefits from a better transition will differ by orders of magnitude *

Information under mandatory statutory reporting also needs to be open, usable, and open licensed (and I can't believe I still need to argue this point), including, in Europe:

  • ENTSO‑E Transparency Platform
  • EEX market disclosure

Another topic covered was that of the business‑to‑government (B2G) public interest information flows as covered in the proposed EU Data Act. The provisions in the original draft were deemed too open‑ended and a revised version is slated for release on 23 February 2022. This exact same theme of principle versus proscription is running through open data policy currently being developed by the United Kingdom Ofgem regulator.

In addition, proprietary data standards, which may have once served industry well, are now an impediment as actors from outside those industries arrive. One such example is the IEC Common Information Model which covers information exchange within electricity systems.

The 1996 database directive is also again subject to review under the proposed Data Act. I have argued elsewhere that public sector information and information under mandatory public reporting should never be subject to database protection. A decision on the database directive might also be forthcoming on 23 February too?

To close, I stressed open standards for data as much as I could, followed by suitable open licenses on non‑personal information under statutory reporting or derived from the public sector, followed by a push for open data more generally. I also gave a number of examples of problems we face as a community, which I have not recorded in this posting — in part because some don't warrant airing on a public news group.

* Those who have watched the trailer to the new sci‑fi comedy "Don't look up" should note the scene in the film where the economic value of the killer asteroid hurtling toward earth is stressed and then compare that satire with the sentiments expressed in this bullet point.

with best wishes, Robbie

Copyright (c) 2021 Robbie Morrison <>.  This posting is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC‑BY‑4.0) License.

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