Carnegie Mellon University
November 01, 2021

Making the OEO datasets accessible

By Aranya Venkatesh, Joe DeCarolis

Energy systems modeling is a form of post-normal science where “facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent” [1]. Inputs to energy systems models are uncertain, but the decisions that these tools inform are critical. In such an environment, the modeling process really matters.

This motivated our decision to use open-source models, tools, and data. In addition, we are developing detailed documentation for both models and data, which can help engage the broader peer community and get expert insights. The energy systems optimization model we use in the OEO, Temoa, has lived on GitHub for over a decade and has a large user community. We recently created a separate GitHub repository for the OEO initiative that includes our project roadmap, Temoa-compatible input databases, and a series of Jupyter notebooks that document the input data. 

The notebooks include a combination of markdown cells that provide a narrative describing data sources and assumptions, along with more interactive features that query the latest database version and render the input data as tables, graphs, and network diagrams. More recently, we’ve also developed a notebook to generate stacked bar charts and Sankey diagrams to represent results from a specific model scenario. Users can adapt these notebooks to suit their own requirements since the underlying code is available in hidden cells. 

There are a couple of ways to view these notebooks. Users can clone the OEO GitHub repository on their local machines and directly launch and access the notebooks through the Temoa conda environment. Alternatively, the repository can also be rendered via Binder (an open-source service that can make a GitHub repository interactive) to allow users to view the notebooks on the cloud. This can be done by clicking the launch binder badge at the top of the repository README. Note that it takes several minutes to process the notebooks for viewing. 

For a short demonstration, check out the video below:

[1] Silvio O. Funtowicz, Jerome R. Ravetz, Science for the post-normal age, Futures, Volume 25, Issue 7, 1993, Pages 739-755, ISSN 0016-3287