Classification and challenges of bottom-up energy system models - A review

Matteo Giacomo Prina*, Giampaolo Manzolini, David Moser, Benedetto Nastasi, Wolfram Sparber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)
233 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reviews the classification schemes used for bottom-up energy system modelling and proposes a novel one as re-elaboration of the previous schemes. Moreover, this paper identifies that the main challenges of this research field rotate around the concept of resolution. A matrix of challenges in which four main fields are identified: resolution in time, in space, in techno-economic detail and in sector-coupling. These main fields are divided into different levels of resolution: low, medium and high. The use of a low resolution introduces errors in the modelling as demonstrated by different studies. Several existing bottom-up energy system models are reviewed in order to classify them according to the proposed approach and map them through the proposed matrix. 13 different models are analyzed in the category of bottom-up short-term and 9 as bottom-up long-term energy system models. The following mapping shows how several models reach a high level of resolution in one or more than one area. However, the ultimate challenge is the simultaneous achievement of high resolution in all these fields. The literature review has shown how this final aim is not reached by any model at the current stage and it highlights the gap and weaknesses of this branch of research and the direction versus which is important to work to improve this type of modelling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109917
Number of pages16
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bottom-up
  • Challenges
  • Classification
  • Energy planning
  • Energy system modelling

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