Developing a common ontology for energy system analysis



The (energy system) community is still missing a common ontology.
As part of a recently started research project (SzenarienDB) we will initiate and organize a “common language”.
We will not start from scratch but rather collect and harmonise existing material like:

Details will follow shortly.

Do-a-thon: Draft for 'energy' datapackage standard (?)

Hi Ludwig. Hugely important work, good luck. Robbie

  • reegle glossary (also described here) — useful to examine but way too general for our needs


Hello again Ludwig

International standard ISO 13600, now withdrawn, is also worth reviewing. It attempted a coherent set of concepts to be used when describing energy systems in general terms. I do not know who initiated the standard or why it was withdrawn, but in my view it was a useful document. Some of the terminology selected by the standard is a bit obscure, so I suggest you abandon the actual vocabulary. For instance, an energyware describes what other authors variously name an energy carrier, energy vector, energy commodity, and generic fuel. Because the standard has been withdrawn, it is not possible to purchase it. Anybody wanting an electronic copy should contact me directly.

ISO (15 November 1997). Technical energy systems: basic concepts — ISO 13600:1997 — First edition. Geneva, Switzerland: International Standards Organization.

ISO (1 May 1998). Technical energy systems: basic concepts — ISO 13600:1997 — Technical corrigendum 1. Geneva, Switzerland: International Standards Organization.

Abstract: This International Standard gives the basic concepts needed to define and describe technical energy systems. It introduces the concept technosphere and its division into two sectors. The economic purpose of one of these is to supply the other with energy in the technical-economic sense, that is, energyware, to be distinguished from energy in the physical sense. The items included in that concept are given in a closed list. The standard prescribes the input-output model and the consolidation principle applied to technical energy systems. The outputs from the model are the intended product or service, the releases from the technosphere to nature, the use of natural resources and the associated exploitative impacts.

ISO (15 June 1998). Technical energy systems: structure for analysis: energyware supply and demand sectors — ISO 13601:1998. Geneva, Switzerland: International Standards Organization.

Abstract: This International Standard specifies a structure that shall be used to describe and analyze technical energy systems. It defines subsectors of the energyware supply and demand sectors, and furthermore defines a model structure for each subsector. This provides a set of standardized modules, according to which all data shall be organized and presented. The structure serves the same purpose in studies of technical energy systems as an accounting code plan does in bookkeeping. It is principally aligned with the structure of official international statistics (ISIC) in order to facilitate data acquisition.

The use of this structure facilitates the comparison between different studies of technical energy systems and permits partial results of one study to be used in other studies.

ISO (2009). Technical energy systems: methods for analysis: part 1: general — ISO 13602-1:2002 — Revision 2009. Geneva, Switzerland: International Standards Organization.

Abstract: ISO 13602-1 provides methods to analyze, characterize and compare technical energy systems (TESs) with all their inputs, outputs and risk factors. It contains rules and guidelines for the methodology for such analyses.

ISO 13602-1 is intended to establish relations between inputs and outputs and thus to facilitate certification, marking and labeling.

I would also recommend you look at Groscurth et al (1995). Although two decades old, this paper describes the fundamental structure that all engineering-based high-resolution models use today. The abstract NEMESS model described later became the basis for the deeco modeling framework. HTH, Robbie

Groscurth, Helmuth-M, Thomas Bruckner, and Reiner Kümmel. (1995) “Modeling of energy-services supply systems”. Energy. 20 (9): 941–958.


Thanks for the input. There are students in Magdeburg (OvGU) processing the material these days.
@robbie.morrison Can you send me copy of the ISO via mail?
As far as I see we will decide for OWL and use a collaborate tool to edit entries.
We hope to present the first version on the openmod meeting in Zürich.


Hello again Ludwig. Mantzoz et al (2016) documents the European Commission POTEnCIA energy model being developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). POTEnCIA utilizes NACE codes to classify industries if you want to head down that track. The report has lots of tables near the end to draw on. HTH Robbie.

Mantzos, Leonidas, Tobias Wiesenthal, Ioanna Kourti, Nicoleta-Anca Matei, Elena Navajas Cawood, Anastasios Papafragkou, Máté Rózsa, Peter Russ, and Antonio Soria Ramirez (2016). POTEnCIA model description — Version 0.9 — JRC100638. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. ISBN 978-92-79-56945-6. doi:10.2791/416465.


Ludwig raises the question of how to organize a working group to develop a common ontology. See the following post for a general discussion on “Openmod Working Groups”:


Collection of use cases and requirements of and to an ontology (please add your contributions):

Use cases

  • Machine readable physical unit translation
  • Model integration (figuring out how terminology differs between models and how to align them)
  • Model comparisons/experiments
  • Model coupling


  • Enabling interoperability, perhaps using RDF and datapackage metadata



Going forward: create a transparent working group for this that everybody can contribute to.
Also: publish the use cases already collected and a small ontology prototype.
Important: Don’t start from a blank slate and create ‘yet another energy ontology’, but try to integrate the stuff which is already out there.