Energy Transition: Modeling and Scenario Analysis

Undergraduate course, University of Liège, 2023

The course provides an introduction to state-of-the-art modeling approaches for the energy transition in Belgium, in Europe and in the World. It goes beyond the sole consideration of electric grids by focusing on multi-energy systems, also referred to as integrated or whole energy systems.

The course was created in 2023 for the Master in Energy Engineering

Learning unit contents

Well-known energy scenarios and pathways (IEA, EU Roadmaps, IPCC scenarios, ENTSO-E TYNDP, etc.) are presented and related to their specific model formulation. Through multiple examples, the students learn to select the most appropriate model to answer a specific question and the trade-off between computational tractability and spatial, temporal, sectoral and technological granularity.

Societal aspects not directly linked to the energy sector, such as climate issues, macro-economic considerations, equity issues, the finiteness of energy and mineral resources, political levers for action or energy sufficiency, are also evoked and integrated in a qualitative or quantitative way into the analysis of future scenarios.

In the exercise sessions, the students learn to progressively build complex models, starting from a simple dispatch problem and finally considering multi-nodal, multi-energy and multi horizons optimizations models with capacity expansion. The last exercise sessions are dedicated to the principles of open, collaborative scientific programming for energy modelling, and to the use of an existing open-source energy system model to generate energy transition scenarios.

The course is organized along the following topics:

  • Energy Balances and Input-Output Models
  • Optimal dispatch and unit commitment
  • Networks and DC Power Flow
  • Storage
  • Capacity expansion
  • Modeling Variable Renewables
  • Multi-Decadal Dynamics
  • Sector Coupling
  • Demand modeling and energy sufficiency
  • Integrated assessment models
  • Socio-Environmental of energy consumption
  • Learning outcomes of the learning unit

At the end of the course, the student understands how energy system models are built and used to answer different types of questions such as flexibility and adequacy studies, long-term planning or energy integration scenarios. He/She also understands the important scocio-environmental impacts of various energy futures and the related tradeoffs

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

The student must understand the general concepts of energy systems and of their main components. He/She should also have knowledge in optimization and computer programming.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

This course is based primarily on ex cathedra lectures, presented in a modular fashion and supplemented by discussions and external speakers. It is supplemented by hand-on exercise sessions on the students’ personal computers. Part of the time is also devoted to a personal project in which the student runs a freely available model and publicly presents the main results of the modeling.