ITP Renewables releases free open-source modelling platform for the energy transition

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ITP Renewables has released Version 1 of open-CEM, a free of charge open source modelling tool for the National Electricity Market (NEM). The tool can be used by policy makers, project developers, investors and the public to run scenarios of the development of the NEM out to 2050. The project’s aim is to provide a transparent and well-informed analysis of technology and policy options for the NEM as Australia proceeds through the energy transition.

Open-CEM was developed in conjunction the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Energy Transition Hub at the University of Melbourne, software developers ThoughtWorks and the US Strategy Energy Analysis Center of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The grid-integration platform allows users to see when, where and what kind of energy generation, storage capacity and transmission capacity needs to be added to the system, as well as where and when fossil-fuel generators should retire. The tool allows for unlimited scenario modelling, so any assumption about the energy future can be put into the modelling system and an analysis can be made of how that assumption interacts with the system today and in future simulated years.

The assumptions upon which the platform is built, in regards to current technology, costs and performance, are taken from the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated System Plan (ISP).

Open-CEM is unlike similar models in that it is public and therefore open to scrutiny and expert review. Users can inspect every line of code and control every input assumption. There are similar modelling platforms but as they belong in private hands the public has little access and policy makers only gain access at a cost.

It is important to note, conceding this is a public modelling tool, that the model seeks to optimise for a least-cost solution to any input. Of course, the least-cost solution is not necessarily the best option. Nevertheless, for each simulated year, the model supplies the lowest cost solutions to meet the forecasted electricity demands with generation, transmission and storage in the NEM.

Users can begin to explore the platform with some of the already provided scenarios, such as “Scenario 01: Base case with Neutral projections, Effective LRET, VRET and QRET”, or “Scenario 03: Renewable energy target of 99% by 2050”, or “Scenario 09: Higher distributed PV penetration by 10 pct.” There are currently 10 of these pre-run scenarios, but more will be added according to user response.

The more interested users can download open-CEM and run their own more complicated scenarios using tailored assumptions, technological advancements, policy shifts and other such varied inputs.

A completed simulation, which can take up to 3 days, provides a complete dataset and host of recommendations.

Like other free of charge open-source online platforms, ITP Renewables expects an informed community to continuously improve the model over time. The platform was developed with funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)