A grip on the energy transition with ESDL

Municipalities often draw up scenarios in order to be able to make sound policy decisions for the energy transition. In doing so, they make use of all kinds of mathematical models. But these usually cover only part of the problem. TNO has therefore developed the Energy System Description Language (ESDL), a language that can be used to describe all relevant aspects of the energy system in a uniform manner.
A potential future energy system of Ameland described in ESDL

The energy transition is one of the greatest social challenges of our time, involving economic, social, spatial and technical aspects. This transition to the use of sustainable energy affects all sectors, from large-scale industry, horticulture and transport to everyone living in the built environment. There are many models that calculate energy transition scenarios but they all cover only part of the problem. It is therefore necessary to combine different models in order to address the whole problem in all its aspects. To make it possible for models to communicate with each other, TNO has developed a language that describes the energy system and all relevant aspects for the energy transition in a uniform manner. This provides comprehensive and transparent insight to substantiate policy.

Large diversity of energy transition tooling

There are essential differences in the calculation models used for the energy transition:

  • Geographical: from international scale to level of building.
  • Process: from the phase of developing a vision of area development to use and management of the infrastructure.
  • Sources: many models look at secondary energy sources such as heat, electricity or both; others also consider primary energy sources such as coal, gas, wood pellets or uranium.
  • Content: energetic, financial, spatial or policy related.

Need for synergy

There is a great need for synergy between different models. Heat and electricity are closely linked, for example, and spatial levels of scale and phases of area development need to dovetail well. The local energy transition also warrants an integrated approach. In addition, models use various cost and benefit items, so that the results for municipalities cannot be expressed in the provincial and national energy supply.

Energy System Description Language (ESDL)

The ESDL language ensures that different models consider the same energy system and approach different data and key figures in a uniform manner. So the builders of the calculation models have to implement ESDL for this purpose. TNO provides the dictionary and grammar with EDSL; model builders must learn to speak the language. Parties that publish data, such as grid operators, can use ESDL as a format.
ESDL can be used from the home to the national level and everything in between. With the help of the language it is possible, for example, to unequivocally describe an energy system of a city. Different models can then perform operations on this configuration. The installation of electric heat pumps in one model can then serve as a starting point for other models that then, for example, calculate the grid load. By making agreements about the data to be used, the key figures and the input/output formats, the results of the various models can be easily compared and added up.

Seeking cooperation

In the further development and application of the ESDL, TNO explicitly seeks cooperation with other parties, such as model builders and users as well as other stakeholders in the harmonisation of energy transition calculation models, such as government bodies. We are keen to talk to you.

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