Currently the number of multi energy systems planning tools developed in the research and business community is constantly increasing and they could be classified according to several criteria as per the Energy Modelling Platform for Europe (EMP-E). They could differentiate for the energy vector main object of the analysis (electricity, heat and gas), for the scale (from local to large), for the scope (optimal operation or design) and a variety of other characteristics with increasingly finer classifications.
PSS®E, developed by Siemens, allows to go very deep in the electric network ranging from transmission to distribution level, dealing with different time scales considering generation as well as performing a wide variety of analysis such as voltage stability, contingency analysis, optimal power flow. The same for district heating OptiTLR and gas network GASOPT, they are robust and user-friendly tools capable to dig into specific aspects fundamental for practical implementations, but the focus is mainly on one energy vector. EnergyPLAN, developed and maintain by Aalborg University, is an example of comprehensive software covering all sorts of energy vectors electricity, heat and gas including mobility and industry ranging from regional to national strategies. The tool has been constantly maintained for more than twenty years, being updated with the new technological challenges and it’s a benchmark with respect to the energy conversion and storage units accuracy due to the large space devoted to units technical variables definition. On the other hand, aspects such as topology belonging to the abovementioned tools are not included, e.g. energy networks constraints at distribution level. Furthermore, it represents an input/output model which needs to be integrated with optimization tools for systematically choosing the optimal energy mix, resulting often in meta-heuristic methods that could deal only with a reduced number of variables without guaranteeing the global optimum to be reached. OSeMOSYS, addresses the abovementioned optimization challenges determining the optimal investment strategy and mix of technologies via linear programming methods. It ranges from local communities up to continent scale and at the same time is capable to interact with existing and well know tools for energy policy such as LEAP. It prepares the scenarios in a structured fashion and is capable to include also aspects such as local air pollutants in addition to greenhouse gasses emissions.
PlaMES objective is to integrate a series of models to optimize energy balance, grid constraints and expansion opportunities, investments decision and overall system economics in an user-friendly web application, a novelty in the industry, that will help policy makers decide how to incentivize technologies and to steer the system in direction of cost-efficiency and climate-neutrality. Most of the current tools and models have been either developed within academic research projects therefore there is a general lack of proper updates and support or have been developed without considering the user interaction making it complicated without advanced skills in digital applications and solutions. Therefore, PlaMES aim is to make a tool that could close the gap between complexities and usability in order to reach an even greater audience in the energy industry helping them to find the right direction in the fight against climate change.