the unfulfilled potential of the openmod community

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Tom Brown

Mar 2, 2021, 7:30:22 AMMar 2
to openmod list
Hi all,

The open energy modelling world has changed since openmod was founded in
2014. There are more open modelling frameworks than anyone can count.
Research journals and funding bodies increasingly demand open models for
studies. In some senses, the initial vision of openmod has been
realised, but at the same time I think it is under-performing compared
to its potential.

In particular it could do more on data and data quality, which could be
called "the new frontier":

- Cataloguing on the wiki what data is available to help us discover data

- Crowdsourcing unavailable data

- Cataloguing model implementations for different regions, to avoid
people constantly building new models from scratch

More details below, along with CONCRETE ACTION steps.

Obviously this is a personal view, and reflects my own biases and interests.

# Cataloguing on the wiki

There is still a need to catalogue and make known what is available.
This is distinct from projects like the Open Energy Platform
( which host data. We're still missing
the first step of identifying what is available and linking it. This is
NOT in competition with hosting platforms like OEP, which can be used in
a second step to host data in a uniformly accessible way.

We have data pages on the wiki which need filling!

This has worked well on "transmission network datasets":

but there are big gaps elsewhere (industry, detailed demand data, gas
networks, etc.).

There are virtuous network effects here: if the wiki pages become a
standard reference, i.e. the first place to look for data, then everyone
will want to list their data there.

We can also use the wiki pages to identify gaps in the datasphere.

CONCRETE ACTION: Take a few minutes to look at the pages:

and add links to databases (open or commercial) that you know about.

# Crowdsourcing data

We should also be crowdsourcing data.

Example: Datasets like worldwide steel and cement plants typically have
2000 entries. This is more than a single person can collect, but doable
for a team of 10-20.

Openmod could be organising data hackathons.

We could be creating open datasets where every datapoint is referenced
from a press release / other official source.

Or even better, contributing to existing open projects, like the Global
Steel Plant Tracker:

We seem to spend 90% of our time talking about metadata and licencing,
only 10% about the data itself, so let's reverse this ratio!

CONCRETE ACTION: Volunteer to organise a hackathon! Identify some
missing data that could be coordinated over a 1-day hackathon and
recruit over the mailing list for volunteers. Make sure it's doable, and
try to make sure there is some social element, e.g. regular coffee
breaks and maybe a zoom dinner afterwards, so it's not all hard work.

# Cataloguing model implementations for different regions

I have seen or heard of 3 different open models of the Chinese power
system in the past few days. I'm not sure these projects know about each
other. I've started a page here:

There is also some overlap with the OEP factsheets here:

But the idea would be to organise by region.

CONCRETE ACTION: Contribute to the above page on the wiki that lists all
the various implementations for regions that are open, with links, e.g.
all the different implementations in SWITCH, TIMES, calliope, oemof,
PyPSA, etc.

Thanks! All comments, feedback welcome!

Best wishes,


Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics (IAI)

Tom Brown (he/him)
Research Group Leader, Energy System Modelling

Phone: +49 721 608 25737
Fax: +49 721 608 22602
Group website:
Personal website:

Visitor Address:
Office 309
Campus North Building 445
Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen
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