Energy bridge meeting on 18 January 2020 in Berlin

Energy bridge meeting

This posting is dynamic and will be updated as new information arises (the content history is available via the little pencil icon on the top right).

The past 12 months have seen an unprecedented number of new civil society organizations (CSO) and citizen science projects founded to promote very rapid decarbonization (VRD). These organizations are in need suitable quantitative analysis — colloquially “numbers” — to develop and defend their sought policy positions.

The tools and data for energy policy analysis are now sufficiently developed and suitably licensed to allow much of this analysis to be undertaken collectively and in public.

The energy bridge meeting is designed to explore this new opportunity for common pool analysis — which arises from the intersection between:

  • the open energy system modeling community and similar communities in neighboring domains
  • civil society organizations in need of quantitative analysis for their zero‑carbon energy policy positions
  • the interested public who would like to contribute relevant skills and expertise to this undertaking

This bridge meeting replaces the now‑canceled Berlin 2020 openmod workshop hack‑a‑thon and is being organized as a separate event.

Who should attend

Civil society groups and established NGOs developing positions on energy policy should attend the meeting. This includes development NGOs working on equitable energy access in the Global South.

Members of the interested public are also encouraged to participate, particularly those with numerical skills or domain knowledge.

Staff from official agencies, consulting firms, engineering companies, and start‑ups are also welcome. Although the event is pitched at servicing civil society needs, we can all collaborate on the tools, data, and analytics without discriminating against any particular area of application.

This bridge meeting immediately follows from the three‑day Open Energy Modelling Initiative Berlin 2020 workshop, so the open energy modeling community can be expected to be well represented.

Meeting details

Date and venue details as follows:

  • date : Saturday 18 January 2020
  • time : 10:00 to 17:00 followed by an informal restaurant meal
  • venue : DIW Berlin
  • address : Mohrenstraße 58, 10117 Berlin, Germany
  • location : OpenStreetMap
  • public transport: underground lines U2 Stadtmitte and U6 Stadtmitte
  • late arrivals : use your mobile phone to call number on door (see below)
  • cost : no charge
  • catering : fruit juice provided, lunch at one of the several nearby cafes
  • travel assistance : please contact me @robbie.morrison directly for last‑resort support
  • program : see separate posting below

A mobile phone will be necessary to enter the building if you arrive late as we need to keep the main door locked when unattended. The number to call will be pasted to the main door (see image below).

It’s very unlikely that numbers will need to be capped, so you should be able to register right up to the day before — but it would help me if you could do so earlier, of course.

There is no cost but a contribution to cover refreshments would be useful.

DIW Berlin entrance [Alfred Gutzler CC‑BY‑SA‑4.0 Wikipedia]


  • please record your name and optionally your affiliation on this CryptPad document
  • and either add your email address or inform me by some other means
  • the CryptPad can be slow so give it a couple of minutes to load :neutral_face:
  • it is unlikely that participant numbers will need to be restricted, but if so, civil society representatives will be given priority

Nearby cafes

The following cafes can be used for lunch and also emergency coffees:

An open energy system analysis community

One item on the agenda is a proposal to form a mostly online community to undertake common pool analysis (image below not publicly licensed).

This community would draw on themes and practices from open source software development, community data curation, and citizen science. It would mostly operate online and may later hold virtual workshops and meetings.

Further reading

Posting on the previous “openmod/NGO bridge” meeting on 17 June 2019 with 16 participants.

Morrison, Robbie (23 November 2019). Energy bridge meeting in Berlin on 18 January 2020 : civil society advocacy and energy system analysis — Release 04. Berlin, Germany. energy-bridge-2-first-flier.04.pdf (64.5 KB).

Morrison, Robbie (20 November 2019). “An open energy system modeling community”. Generation R blog. Hannover, Germany: Leibniz Research Alliance Open Science. doi:10.25815/ff3b-d154. ISSN 2512-3815. Creative Commons CC‑BY‑4.0 license.

Morrison, Robbie (30 September 2019). An online community for open energy analysis: improving trust, legitimacy, and participation — Release 02 — Poster. Poster for EMP‑E 2019 meeting, Brussels, Belgium. Open access.

A5 flier (release 04 dated 4 December 2019) bridge-2-a5-flier.04.pdf (46.0 KB).

Wikipedia articles on open energy system models and open energy system databases.

Request for contributors

Please contact me @robbie.morrison if you would like to contribute: to possibly give a 10 minute presentation, participate in panel discussions, facilitate a breakout group, or record events. I am particularly interested in hearing from civil society organizations. Also, contact me if you would like to contribute to the organization of the event.


This posting is likewise dynamic and will be updated as the event planning evolves.

The list of active participants and their roles are currently under development — as is the broader event format. But the emphasis will be on minimizing delivered presentations and on maximizing dialog and interaction.

Again please contact me @robbie.morrison if you would like to contribute, facilitate, or record. And don’t be shy in coming forward — our house really is on fire.


The following presenters are confirmed. Presentations are nominally 10 minutes and slides are optional.

Participant Affiliation Comment
Christiana Mauro Nuclear Transparency Watch strategies for overcoming barriers to data access
Berit Müller DGS public policy for solar technologies grounded on detailed analysis
Berit Erlach GermanZero developing a 1.5°C‑compliant Klimaplan for Germany
Felix Reitz Europe Beyond Coal transitioning to sustainable district-heating systems
Stefan Pfenninger ETH Zurich energy system models and their limitations
Christopher Mutel Paul Scherrer Institute the BONSAI database for LCA
Gregor Hagedorn Scientists for Future “help us sketch and annotate the solution space”
Simon Worthington Open Science Lab, TIB open research for climate change
Diana Süsser IASS Potsdam what influences what? the energy model‑policy‑nexus

Notes: ✻ = to be confirmed


Under current planning, the morning will comprise short presentations and panel discussions with plenty of opportunity for questions. The afternoon will comprise breakout groups followed by a plenary session and wrap‑up.


Christiana Mauro (Nuclear Transparency Watch) Strategies for overcoming barriers to data access. Signatories to the European Aarhus Convention are required to ensure adequate public participation opportunities for all national and transboundary projects likely to have a significant effect on the environment. Consideration of the logic set out by the European Court and the findings of the Aarhus Compliance Committee can help scientific and activist communities obtain the information they require for their advocacy and research objectives. Dialogue and tactical cooperation between these communities can also create unique opportunities for achieving their respective aims, particularly when challenging non‑disclosure through litigation.

Berit Müller (DGS — German Association For Solar Energy) Public policy for solar technologies grounded on detailed analysis. As a consumer association, we are active in various expert groups and take part in hearings in legislative procedures. In order to come to a common opinion on the various topics our association covers, energy system analysis could be extremely helpful. In my presentation I will give examples of these topics.

Berit Erlach (GermanZero) Developing a 1.5°C‑compliant Klimaplan for Germany. [provisional synopsis] The newly founded GermanZero civil society organization released the first issue of their Klimaplan at a press conference on 17 December 2019. GermanZero call for Germany to be carbon‑neutral by 2035 consistent with an equitable share of the remaining global carbon budget that limits warming to 1.5°C. This presentation discusses the analytical issues faced in drawing up the plan and how current analytical shortcomings might be best addressed.

Felix Reitz (Europe Beyond Coal) Transitioning to sustainable district‑heating systems. The Europe Beyond Coal campaign is a network of independent NGOs that promotes the phase‑out of coal power stations in Europe with a diverse set of approaches. In a new project, we want to develop strategies to address coal‑fired CHPs. We believe that retiring these plants requires the development of sustainable solutions for covering their heat output. This means that quick and dirty solutions like drop‑in substitution with gas are undesirable. Instead, a wide range of different solutions on the demand/grid/supply side need to be planned and implemented — a complex task, which requires coordinated action from many different stakeholders and, in particular, science‑based advisors. Currently, we are learning and analyzing how to best engage here as a civil society organization. In this session I want to give you a brief overview of the matter and an outline of the questions we face.

Stefan Pfenninger (ETH Zurich) Energy system models and their limitations. [provisional synopsis] This presentation discusses the types of energy system models currently in use and under development, their capabilities, and their limitations.

Christopher Mutel (Paul Scherrer Institute) The BONSAI database for life cycle assessment. [provisional synopsis] Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to estimate the environmental impacts of a product, service, or process over its lifetime and to indicate ways that those impacts might be reduced. LCA is therefore data intensive. This presentation describes the BONSAI community dedicated to create and maintain a truly global open database for product footprinting and some of the issues they face in their endeavor.

Gregor Hagedorn (Scientists for Future) Help us to sketch and annotate the solution space for sustainability! Energy models and their implications for sustainability and especially climate change are hard to understand. Different groups come to different results — and while the conclusions are often well represented, the underlying assumptions are usually not very transparent. Some of this may be unavoidable, but can we improve on this situation? Open source models are useful as they enable collaboration — but the task of communicating the assumptions and results remains a separate necessity.

Simon Worthington (Open Science Lab, TIB — German National Library of Science and Technology) Open Climate Knowledge — 100% open research for climate change. Open Climate Knowledge (OCK) is an open research project for data mining open access (OA) papers related to climate change, building stats on OA publishing rates, and providing a toolset for researchers inside and outside of academia. OA publishing rates within climate science are currently less than 30% (Tai and Robinson 2018). The OCK also promotes climate change research that is 100% open science though two further project goals:

  • to build a knowledge base on rates of open research using the OpenNotebook data mining software developed by Peter Murray-Rust
  • to develop recommendations about how best to transition to 100% open research in climate science

Diana Süsser (IASS Potsdam) What influences what? The energy model‑policy‑nexus. Policymakers now face the challenge of taking decisions about some future unfamiliar renewables‑dominated energy system — one completely different from the fossil‑based system in terms of technologies, spatial requirements, democratization, and so forth. Well‑informed policymaking is needed and suggests the use of new energy planning models. But what role should energy models play in this process? Does policy influence the energy futures that are modeled? Or vice‑versa? This talk discusses whether and how energy models influence policymaking — and if and how policymakers influence the design, development, and interpretation of those same models. Finding answers to these questions is part of our ongoing research within the European Union project SENTINEL.


GermanZero (December 2019). Der 1,5‑Grad‑Klimaplan für Deutschland: Gemeinsamer Aufbruch gegen die Klimakrise [The 1.5‑degree climate plan for Germany: a joint start against the climate crisis] (in German). Hamburg, Germany: GermanZero.

Tai, Travis C, and James PW Robinson (2018). “Enhancing climate change research with open science”. Frontiers in Environmental Science. 6 (115). ISSN 2296-665X. doi:10.3389/fenvs.2018.00115.


The following A5 flier (release 05) is being used to publicize the event.

Feel free to download the PDF file and circulate it as you wish.

bridge-2-a5-flier.05.pdf (45.9 KB)

Hi there,

I just realised that my presentation from the last meeting is not yet online.
So here you can find the slides:

@robbie.morrison please feel free to add the link to the old thread as well



This posting provides additional background for the energy bridge meeting.


As noted, the idea of the “bridge” is to explore the intersection between the open energy modeling community and neighboring domains, civil society groups in need of quantitative policy analysis, and the interested public who would like to contribute their relevant skills and expertise to this enterprise.

Many civil society organizations, in Germany at least, seek very rapid decarbonization (VRD), with calls for net‑zero target years of 2025 (Extinction Rebellion DE) and 2035 (GermanZero, Scientists for Future, Fridays for Future). Indeed, the mainstream target year of 2050, commonly used by industrial economies, is unlikely to be Paris‑compliant and equitable in terms of the remaining carbon budget without a very substantial and careful use of carbon offsets.

There is no quantitative analysis on net‑zero targets prior the year 2050 reported in the scientific literature, even when considering just the energy sector.

To develop feasible and consistent sets of policies requires numbers. Quantitative energy policy analysis essentially means creating and running futures scenarios — forming storylines, then simulations, and finally interpretations. That is exactly what energy system modelers like to do. Ideally, some of these scenarios should be determined by civil society and other stakeholders and not by the modelers themselves or by official bodies.

This event should consider how that analysis can best be undertaken and if creating a common pool of analytical resources and an associated community to maintain and deploy those resources might be a sensible option.

First energy bridge meeting

This event follows from the first “energy bridge meeting” held in Berlin on 17 June 2019, in which 16 people attended, mostly energy modelers and analysts. The focus this time will be more on the needs of civil society organizations, including those pressing for ambitious target years and, in some cases also, significant reductions in lifestyle and consumption (at least until the transition to zero‑carbon is complete).

Open Energy Modelling Initiative Berlin workshop

This event will take place immediately after the three‑day Open Energy Modelling Initiative workshop in Berlin on 15–17 January 2020. This initiative, often known as the “openmod”, is a network of 600 individuals, most of whom are full‑time researchers. It is expected that a good number of the energy modelers attending this workshop will also stay over for the “bridge meeting”. For background on this community and its domain, see Morrison (2019a) and the Wikipedia articles on the openmod and on open energy system models.

An open analysis community?

The formation of a predominantly online open energy system analysis community or “opensay” is on the agenda for this event, albeit somewhat less of a priority. A possible starting point for that discussion is depicted in Morrison (2019b). Using techniques from open source development, community data curation, and citizen science, such a community could variously formulate research questions, seek inputs, develop scenarios, collect and assemble missing data, arrange for or undertake modeling, interpret results, decimate outputs, and publicize conclusions.

Energy system models

Many civil society organizations have limited background in quantitative analysis generally and system modeling specifically. This section provides some orientation. See also the Wikipedia article on energy system modeling.

Classic energy system models are usually quite literal in technical terms, have high temporal resolution (usually one hour or less), and are subject to a large number of high‑level and low‑level requirements (represented as constraints). The simulated system itself is usually evolved to be least cost (that being the optimization goal) over the given time horizon — an analytical paradigm which gives rise to energy system optimization models (ESOM). As noted, the net‑zero target year has invariably been set at 2050.

Other analytical paradigms can be used, possibly in combination, and sectors beyond the energy sector may also be covered. These paradigms include:

  • systems dynamics models (SD) : a less used approach to energy systems analysis and sustainability investigations more generally but one which yields different insights based on the the examination of influence and feedback
  • nexus/CLEWS models : these extend energy systems models to land use (including food) and water use (CLEWS means climate, land including food, energy, and water systems integrated modeling)
  • integrated assessment models (IAM) : these models are the backbone of most IPCC mitigation analysis — they normally look out to 2100 and include a macro‑economy
  • life cycle assessment (LCA) : energy system models have not generally treated embodied emissions well and techniques drawn from LCA can potentially assist
  • agent‑based models (ABM) : these incorporate informed actors making explicit decisions
  • coupled models : energy system models can be linked with other specific models to extend insights, for example, with airshed models to assess the air quality impacts from actual or proposed power generation

It would be nice to improve the representation of social science issues in the above list but efforts to do so have, thus far, proved difficult.

Similar initiatives

There are some similar initiatives built around data and statistical analysis, although this exercise may well be novel in terms of centering on systems modeling? Two such data projects are DataKind and DSSG Berlin.

Further background

Since November 2018, several in the openmod community have been trying to interest NGOs and other civil society organizations in the idea that they should develop their energy policy positions using open analysis.

To that end (as mentioned earlier), the first "energy bridge meeting was held on 17 June 2019 attracting 16 participants.

Since that June 2019 meeting was conceived, political events have moved rapidly. New youth and adult protest groups have pushed very rapid decarbonization up the policy agenda. In Germany specifically, the lack of government ambition on climate protection has driven further activity — with the recent climate package [Klimapaket] subject to widespread and sustained criticism. Consequently, a number of civil society organizations have begun working in earnest on policy development with net‑zero target years well prior to 2050.

The currently available open energy system models cannot satisfactorily deal with the very fast but nevertheless rate‑constrained transformations being proposed. Nor will most current scenarios have the kind of shifts and reductions in personal consumption that some civil society organizations believe will be necessary. In which case, here are two reasons why the open energy modeling community should reach out to civil society groups:

  • to develop more diverse and arguably more legitimate futures scenarios
  • to better understand those model features and capabilities most in need of development

Another aspect attracting attention are citizens’ assemblies. There are some real opportunities to collaborate in this realm too. Dubois et al (2019) report their recent experiment on the use of model‑supported public consultation concerning the Swiss electricity mix in 2035, which represents a useful and significant milestone. And certainly the idea of model‑mediated processes could be taken up by civil society groups advocating that governments run citizens’ assemblies on rapid decarbonization and allied issues.

A personal view

I believe it is now opportune for civil society organizations, in collaboration with open scientists and members of the interested public, to undertake their own fully open policy analysis — and thereby take a more proactive role in policy discussions by being able to effectively counter or confirm official quantitative analysis.

This is an entirely different idea from presenting citizens with more sophisticated policy tools and seeking their presumably better informed responses. That, in itself, is a useful and necessary exercise and complimentary to the common pool analysis concept being presented here.


Dubois, Alexane, Simona Holzer, Georgios Xexakis, Julia Cousse, and Evelina Trutnevyte (January 2019). “Informed citizen panels on the Swiss electricity mix 2035: longer-term evolution of citizen preferences and affect in two cities”. Energies. 12 (22): 4231. ISSN 1996-1073. doi:10.3390/en12224231. Open access.

Morrison, Robbie (20 November 2019a). “An open energy system modeling community”. Generation R blog. Hannover, Germany: Leibniz Research Alliance Open Science. doi:10.25815/ff3b-d154. ISSN 2512-3815. Creative Commons CC‑BY‑4.0 license.

Morrison, Robbie (30 September 2019b). An online community for open energy analysis: improving trust, legitimacy, and participation — Release 02 — Poster. Poster for EMP-E 2019 meeting, Brussels, Belgium. Creative Commons CC‑BY‑4.0 license.

The “energy bridge meeting” took place on Saturday 18 January 2020 as planned.

There were 30 participants. With the following civil society affiliations:

  • Association “Common Earth” (Poland)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sonnenenergie (DGS) (Germany)
  • Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) (United States)
  • Europe Beyond Coal (EBC) (Europe)
  • Extinction Rebellion Deutschland (XR DE) (Germany) × 2
  • GermanZero (Germany)
  • Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW) / The Sortition Foundation (both Europe)
  • Sandbag (United Kingdom)
  • Scientist for Future (S4F) (Germany)

And academic or agency affiliations:

  • CEA Liten (France) × 2
  • Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) (Germany)
  • Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) (Germany)
  • Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (Germany)
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR) (Germany)
  • German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB) (Germany)
  • Grenoble Electrical Engineering lab (G2Elab) (France)
  • Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS Potsdam) (Germany)
  • Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) (Switzerland)
  • Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) (Germany)
  • Reiner Lemoine Institut (RLI) (Germany) × 2
  • Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin) (Germany)
  • Umweltbundesamt (Deutschland) (UBA) (Germany)
  • University of Liège (Belgium)
  • Universität Potsdam (Germany)

There will be videos and presentations uploaded after I get a chance to process them. Once again, thanks to DIW Berlin for providing the venue without charge.


Thanks robbie, this initiative is great. I twittered a bit about this and @danielhuppmann from IIASA and Philipp Hauser (Twitter: @PhHauser) from Tu Dresden showed interest. Was there some time for planning next steps, identifying a common first showcase project etc? Also Robbie: are you on Twitter? I’d love to include you in the discussions going on there…

1 Like

The meeting didn’t move as far as next‑step planning. No I am not on twitter. Although that’s clearly where a lot of topical discussions between diverse participants takes place.

There is now a new topic to discuss the formation of an opensay community. Probably best to shift over there.