Thursday, February 25, 2016

MEDEAS begins

The European project "MEDEAS" is starting. The acronym has little to do with the mythological figure of Medea but stands for "Modeling the Energy Development under Environmental And Socioeconomic constraints" and it is an ambitious attempt at creating a new model that will define the future of the energy system in Europe, taking into account the physical constraints involved.  This is not a new idea, it goes back to 1972, at the time of the "Limits to Growth" study. What is new is that the concepts developed at that time are re-emerging after a period of neglect and are now sponsored and financed by the European Union. A remarkable vindication of the ideas of the group of pioneers who carried out the early 1972 study and that turned out to be prophetic, beyond perhaps the expectation of even those who had developed the model. 

As one of the partners of the MEDEAS project, I'll see to cover the development of the project in the "Cassandra's Legacy" blog. As a start, let me propose to you a post by Antonio Turiel, also involved in the project, from his blog "The Oil Crash"

The MEDEAS project begins

by Antonio Turiel

Dear readers,

Today and tomorrow (Feb 18 and 19 2016) the institute of sciences of the Seas of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - CSIC hosted the kick-off meeting of the MEDEAS project.

MEDEAS (acronym of Modeling the Energy Development under Environmental And Socioeconomic constraints" is a European project financed in the framework of the "Horizon 2020" program to finance European research. This project is coordinated by my institution, and in practice by my colleague, Jordi Solé.

From the institute of Marine Sciences, we have in this project Antonio García-Olivares, Joaquim Ballabrera, Emilio García and yours truly.

Two more Spanish institutes also participate in this project: CIRCE (with Alicia Valero among others) and the University of Valladolid (with Luis Javier Miguel as head, but there are also well known people, such as Margarita Mediavilla and Carlos de Castro).

The other partners ar the Consorzio Interuniversitario Italiano di Scienza e Tecnología dei Materiali, INSTM (Ugo Bardi), The Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving, The University of Masaryk, The Anglia Ruskin university, the Sdruzhenie Chernomorski Izsledovatelski Energien Tsentar, the International Institute for Applied system analysis (IIASA), the Friends of the Earth (Czech Republic), the Austrian Energy Agency and Blue4You

The objective of MEDEAS, as shown by its acronym, is to create the tools necessary to support the planning of policies that would favor the transition of the European Energy system toward a new system, based on renewable energy. On this task, the principal objective of MEDEAS is to produce a socio-economc model, the "MEDEAS model", that will be flexible enough to be modifiable in such a way to be able to study different scenarios and pathways toward the transition. The MEDEAS model will be programmed in a free code, (Python) so that it will be easy to use by different social and economic users. It will be based on the WoLiM model, developed by the System Dynamics Group at the University of Valladolid. The MEDEAS model will be a system dynamics model which will introduce new variables, additional to the ones habitually considered, so that it will be possible to adapt the model to create a more detailed analysis model for what is needed to implement a pathway or another, mostly as a function of specific socio-economic aspects, such as the evolution of the unemployment or of income inequality; parameters not always taken into account by the models.

MEDEAS implies a remarkable effort of coordination between the compilation of the necessary data that will be used to define and verify the sensitivity of the model, and the creation of the model itself (to be also compared with some already existing models) and the verification of the different scenarios. MEDEAS is an ambitious attempt to create a new model that might go much beyond the presently available models, in particular being sufficiently flexible to accept very different scenarios, and that will be able to carry out a detailed analysis both at the European scale, as well as that of single countries

Given my role in the project, and its interest for the questions discussed here, during the coming 4 years, I will be informing the readers about the development of the actions of MEDEAS. MEDEAS needs time in order to propose answers in a world where the questions about the future are multiplying. Stay tuned: we hope in good news from MEDEAS.


Antonio Turiel


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)