Opening the black box of energy modelling: Strategies and lessons learned

Stefan Pfenninger*, Lion Hirth, Ingmar Schlecht, Eva Schmid, Frauke Wiese, Tom Brown, Chris Davis, Matthew Gidden, Heidi Heinrichs, Clara Heuberger, Simon Hilpert, Uwe Krien, Carsten Matke, Arjuna Nebel, Robbie Morrison, Berit Müller, Guido Pleßmann, Matthias Reeg, Jörn C. Richstein, Abhishek ShivakumarIain Staffell, Tim Tröndle, Clemens Wingenbach

*Corresponding author for this work

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    The global energy system is undergoing a major transition, and in energy planning and decision-making across governments, industry and academia, models play a crucial role. Because of their policy relevance and contested nature, the transparency and open availability of energy models and data are of particular importance. Here we provide a practical how-to guide based on the collective experience of members of the Open Energy Modelling Initiative (Openmod). We discuss key steps to consider when opening code and data, including determining intellectual property ownership, choosing a licence and appropriate modelling languages, distributing code and data, and providing support and building communities. After illustrating these decisions with examples and lessons learned from the community, we conclude that even though individual researchers' choices are important, institutional changes are still also necessary for more openness and transparency in energy research.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnergy Strategy Reviews
    Pages (from-to)63-71
    Number of pages9
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


    • Open source
    • Open data
    • Energy modelling
    • cs.CY
    • cs.GL

    Cite this

    Pfenninger, S., Hirth, L., Schlecht, I., Schmid, E., Wiese, F., Brown, T., Davis, C., Gidden, M., Heinrichs, H., Heuberger, C., Hilpert, S., Krien, U., Matke, C., Nebel, A., Morrison, R., Müller, B., Pleßmann, G., Reeg, M., Richstein, J. C., ... Wingenbach, C. (2018). Opening the black box of energy modelling: Strategies and lessons learned. Energy Strategy Reviews, 19, 63-71.