Spine: Bridging Traditional Modelling Demarcations

A Genuine Commitment to Open Source

Often, projects pay lip service to open source and make a basic version available to tick the box. We decided from the start to get behind the open source movement in a genuine way and Spine, along with all the models and case studies developed in the project, are and will continue to be fully open. We have a governance structure in place to ensure its continued, open development where anyone can participate. Our Github repository is here

Spine Multi-sector Energy Modelling Framework

Spine is designed from the ground up to model the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition

A Uniquely Flexible Modelling Framework

As shares of renewables increase and interactions across energy sectors, timescales and regions increase, conventional tools often struggle to easily capture the multitude of possibilities. Spine completely breaks with traditional modelling demarcations. E.g. Operations vs. planning studies or power system vs. energy system modelling. Recognising the challenges and opportunities of the energy transition, Spine provides a flexible framework for the user to define the timescales, interactions and sectors they are interested in… without presupposing what the sectors of interest are. Spine has been specifically designed with the flexibility to model arbitrary numbers of energy sectors, completely defined by the user. At the same time optional specific physics such as dc load flow, N-1 security constrained unit commitment, pressure driven gas flow, heat diffusion, transport dynamics and more, allow a high level of detail to be captured. It is this combination of flexibility, scope and detail along with methodologies addressing the computational challenges that differentiates Spine

Methodologies to Capture More Scope and More Detail

To perform long term studies that look at investments and long term energy storage (e.g. hydrogen), most tools force you to sacrifice detail. This means the short-term flexibility value of technologies and short term system operational needs can’t influence investments adequately. Renewable curtailments and the need for flexible resources are often underestimated. Spine employs numerous state-of-the-art methodologies to increase the amount of detail that investment problems can consider and to allow long term storage to be better co-optimised with short term operations. Decomposition techniques allow investments and operations to be co-optimised. We have seen first hand in our case studies how this allows, for example, renewable variability, reserve requirements and the need for system inertia to drive investments. Many existing tools optimise long term and short term decisions independently resulting in sub-optimal outcomes.

Advanced Workflow and Data Management

Studies in support of the energy transition are becoming more complex with more data and more interactions between different tools and models. Spine features an overarching project-driven workflow management system and underlying flexible data structure specifically designed to support today’s complex modelling tasks. Data processing steps and linkages between models can all be captured within a coherent workflow with full auditability and repeatability, greatly simplifying the execution of large studies. Our system is designed for modellers by modellers. With decades of experience using a host of disparate commercial and academic tools we have leveraged our collective experience into developing the system we want to use for our projects. Enhanced scenario management, parallel execution, remote execution and data visualisation all empower the modeller to do more, more easily and more consistently.

Rigorously Validated and in Active Use

Spine is already in use in a wide variety of research and industry projects. It is gaining notable use in investigating the challenges and opportunities of hydrogen, power to X, sector coupling and long term storage within the energy system. Spine has been extensively and systematically validated through 13 case studies, one including the role of hydrogen and long-term storage in the Irish system (Case study C3, presented in the case study webinar, 9 Sep, 13:00-15:00 Dublin time). But the Spine system is not finished yet. It’s a living project with a growing user community and contributor base. It has been designed to be easily developed and extended and will continue to evolve in support of the energy transition, and anyone is free to contribute.