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LEDS GP members pose their questions about the Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning System tool


Following our webinar on the Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning System (LEAP) tool, the tool’s developer, Charlie Heaps of the Stockholm Environment Institute, responds to questions raised by LEDS GP members on the accessibility and requirements of the tool, its advantages and disadvantages, and more. The webinar was hosted by our Energy Working Group and Asia LEDS Partnership – find more details here.

The Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning System is a widely-used software tool for energy policy analysis and climate change mitigation assessment. Developed by the Stockholm Environment Institute, LEAP is an integrated modelling tool that can be used to track energy consumption, production and resource extraction in all sectors of an economy. It can be used to account for both energy sector and non-energy sector greenhouse gas emission sources and sinks, as well as to analyze emissions of local and regional air pollutants.

Q: Is the LEAP software freely available?

LEAP is available at no cost to students worldwide and to NGOs, government agencies and accredited academic organizations based in developing countries. We define developing countries as those that are not in the World Bank‘s list of high income countries. For-profit governmental agencies (e.g. profit making utilities) or anyone using LEAP for paid consulting work must obtain a paid license.

Q: Is LEAP compatible with Apple or only available for Windows based programming?

LEAP runs on Windows computers.  We do not recommend trying to run LEAP natively on Apple or Linux computers.  However, it can easily be run on such machines by using virtualization software such as VMWARE or PARALLELS.

Q: Assuming data availability, can LEAP estimate the effects of solar photovoltaic and/or bio-energy displacing other energy generation sources?

Yes – LEAP can be used to model the deployment of all sorts of power generating technologies. Its main weakness with respect to renewables is that it cannot currently be used to model energy storage.  We are working on this and expect to release a new version that can model energy storage later this year.  Please refer to the LEAP User Guide for more information.

Q: Given the low data requirements when using LEAP, how reliable/credible are LEAP outputs compared to other modeling technologies in the sector? Are there potential disadvantages for using LEAP?

Please see the webinar recording here for a full answer.  You can certainly use LEAP with a minimum of data, but the insights you can gain from models really are enriched by having more data disaggregation.

Q: Can LEAP be utilized at the city level? Can LEAP model outputs (hourly demand, supply, etc.) hourly?

Yes and yes. It has been applied in a number of African and Chinese cities as well as in the US.

Q: Are there tutorials or training materials available for using LEAP? Are there any upcoming in-person LEAP trainings upcoming?

Various training materials are available here. We are working on developing some training videos, which will be available once the new LEAP website is made public.  We don’t have any in-person trainings to tell you about right now, but when these happen we announce them on the LEAP website, so please keep monitoring that.

Q: Are primary data used in LEAP (e.g. resource potential, emissions data, etc.) automatically updated or do updates need to be supplied manually?

LEAP has some default data but most data such as energy statistics, resource potentials, macroeconomic and demographic data etc, need to be inputted and updated manually.

Q: Do you have the LEAP file that calculates my nation’s (Vietnam) NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution)? If you have, could you share it? I really want to research it.

I’m sorry, but no I do not have the data sets that countries have used to prepare their NDCs.  My role is developer of the LEAP software.  Please bear in mind that LEAP is a software tool for building models: it is not a model of a particular country.  LEAP is used by many users in different countries and it is entirely up to each user to decide whether and how they wish to share their data sets.  Some countries may view the data underlying their NDCs as quite sensitive so they may not wish the detailed data and calculations to be shared publicly.  My own personal opinion is that I would like to see countries sharing data more widely, and in fact we are currently improving the LEAP website to encourage users to share their data openly. However, this will always be a decision for data providers.  I cannot and would not wish to enforce any sharing rules on providers.

In terms of learning LEAP please take a look at the training materials, which are all available online here.

We will soon be updating these materials and are also working on a series of short videos to help people learning to use the tool, so please stay tuned to the LEAP website.

Q1: My question is how to combine scenarios when we develop two, three or more alternative technologies to replace one technology in the baseline scenario. For example, I have developed scenarios for renewable energy, including small hydro, biomass, biogas, solar photovoltaic, wind) to replace coal thermal power in the baseline scenario. The issue is that when I combine all renewable energy technologies into a renewable energy scenario, just only one technology existed in Coal Thermal Power of Renewable Energy Scenario.

Obviously the above question is highly technical and perhaps best not dealt with here.  In general, if you have very technical questions or need LEAP support, please post questions on the LEAP technical support discussion forum of the LEAP website, available here.

Now to try and answer the specific question:  the concept of “expression inheritance”, as it is called, is perhaps most useful when formulating small “mini scenarios” in your energy demand analysis.  This let’s you take individual mini scenarios and then combine them to create and overall integrated mitigation scenario.  You can see this in action in the following screenshot from the scenario manager:

LEAP screenshot LEDS GP

It can also be used on the supply side (transformation) when modelling different power supply scenarios.  However, modelling power generation is a bit more complex than modelling energy demand, since each scenario generally needs to consider a combination of different types of generation technologies.  You can use a range of methodologies to model this including simple simulation methods or more complex optimization methods.  One popular approach is to use the “endogenous capacity” variable to specify a mix of generating plants that should be built in the future, but to leave the choice of when to build them up to LEAP.  LEAP will then add plants as needed in order to maintain your preferred planning reserve margin.

For more on these topics, please see the following help pages:

If you have any further questions on the Long Range Energy Alternatives Planning System, please contact our Energy Working Group at energy@ledsgp.org,

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