Before going through this tutorial, it is recommended to have a brief look at the components section to become familiar with the terminology and modeling approach used.

The tutorial is based on the built-in example model and explains the key steps necessary to set up and run a simple model. Refer to the other parts of the documentation for more detailed information on configuring and running more complex models.

The built-in example is simple on purpose, to show the key components of a Calliope model. It consists of two possible electricity supply technologies, an electricity demand at two locations, and a transmission technology linking the two. The diagram below gives an overview:

Overview of the built-in example model

Overview of the built-in example model

Supply-side technologies

The example model defines two electricity supply technologies.

The first is ccgt (combined-cycle gas turbine), which serves as an example of a simple technology with an infinite resource. Its only constraints are the cost of built capacity (e_cap) and a constraint on its maximum built capacity.

Simple node

The layout of a simple node, in this case ccgt, which has an infinite resource, a resource conversion efficiency (r_eff), and a constraint on its maximum built e_cap (which puts an upper limit on es).

The definition of this technology in the example model’s configuration looks as follows:

        name: 'Combined cycle gas turbine'
        color: '#FDC97D'
        stack_weight: 200
        parent: supply
        carrier: power
            r: inf
            r_eff: 0.5
            e_cap.max: 40000  # kW
                e_cap: 750  # USD per kW
                om_fuel: 0.02  # USD per kWh

There are a few things to note. First, ccgt defines a name, a color (given as an HTML color code), and a stack_weight. These are used by the built-in analysis tools when analyzing model results. Second, it specifies its parent, supply, and its carrier, power, thus setting itself up as a power supply technology. This is followed by the definition of constraints and costs (the only cost class used is monetary, but this is where other “costs”, such as emissions, could be defined).


There are technically no restrictions on the units used in model definitions. Usually, the units will be kW and kWh, alongside a currency like USD for costs. It is the responsibility of the modeler to ensure that units are correct and consistent. Some of the analysis functionality in the analysis module assumes that kW and kWh are used when drawing figure and axis labels, but apart from that, there is nothing preventing the use of other units.

The second technology is csp (concentrating solar power), and serves as an example of a complex technology making use of:

  • a finite resource based on time series data
  • built-in storage
  • plant-internal losses (c_eff)
More complex node but without a secondary resource

The layout of a more complex node, in this case csp, which makes use of most node-level functionality available, with the exception of a secondary resource.

This definition in the example model’s configuration is more verbose:

        name: 'Concentrating solar power'
        color: '#99CB48'
        stack_weight: 100
        parent: supply
        carrier: power
            use_s_time: true
            s_time.max: 24
            s_loss: 0.002
            r: file  # Will look for `csp_r.csv` in data directory
            e_eff: 0.4
            c_eff: 0.9
            r_area.max: inf
            e_cap.max: 10000
                s_cap: 50
                r_area: 200
                r_cap: 200
                e_cap: 1000
                om_var: 0.002
                interest: 0.12

Again, csp has the definitions for name, color, stack_weight, parent, and carrier. Its constraints are more numerous: it defines a maximum storage time (s_time.max), an hourly storage loss rate (s_loss), then specifies that its resource should be read from a file (more on that below). It also defines an energy conversion efficiency of 0.4 and a carrier efficiency of 0.9 (i.e., an internal loss of 0.1). Finally, the resource collector area and the installed carrier conversion capacity are constrained to a maximum.

The costs are more numerous as well, and include monetary costs for all relevant components along the conversion from resource to carrier (power): storage capacity, resource collector area, resource conversion capacity, energy conversion capacity, and variable operational and maintenance costs. Finally, it also overrides the default value for the monetary interest rate.

Other technologies

Three more technologies are needed for a simple model. First, a definition of power demand and unmet power demand:

        name: 'Power demand'
        parent: demand
        carrier: power
        name: 'Unmet power demand'
        parent: unmet_demand
        carrier: power

Electricity demand is a technology like any other. We will associate an actual demand time series with the demand technology later. The parent of unmet_demand_power, unmet_demand, is a special kind of supply technology with an unlimited resource but very high cost. It allows a model to remain mathematically feasible even if insufficient supply is available to meet demand, and model results can easily be examined to verify whether there was any unmet demand. There is no requirement to include such a technology in a model, but it is useful to do so, since in its absence, an infeasible model would cause the solver to end with an error, returning no results for Calliope to analyze.

What remains to set up is a simple transmission technology:

        name: 'AC power transmission'
        parent: transmission
        carrier: power
            e_eff: 0.85
                e_cap: 200
                om_var: 0.002

hvac has an efficiency of 0.85, so a loss during transmission of 0.15, as well as some cost definitions.

Transmission technologies (like conversion technologies) look different than other nodes, as they link the carrier at one location to the carrier at another (or, in the case of conversion, one carrier to another at the same location). The following figure illustrates this for the example model’s transmission technology:

Transmission node

A simple transmission node with an e_eff.


In order to translate the model requirements shown in this section’s introduction into a model definition, five locations are used: r1, r2, csp1, csp2, and csp3.

The technologies are set up in these locations as follows:

Locations and their technologies in the example model

Locations and their technologies in the example model

Let’s now look at the first location definition:

        techs: ['demand_power', 'unmet_demand_power', 'ccgt']
                x_map: 'r1: demand'
                    r: file=demand-1.csv
                    r_scale_to_peak: -40000
                    e_cap.max: 30000

There are several things to note here:

  • The location specifies a list of technologies that it allows (techs). Note that technologies listed here must have been defined elsewhere in the model configuration.
  • It also overrides some options for both demand_power and ccgt. For the latter, it simply sets a location-specific maximum capacity constraint. For demand_power, the options set here are related to reading the demand time series from a CSV file. CSV is a simple text-based format that stores tables by comma-separated rows. Note that we did not define any r option in the definition of the demand_power technology. Instead, this is done directly via a location-specific override. For this location, the file demand-1.csv is loaded, and the demand is then scaled such that the demand peak is at the given value. Note that in Calliope, a supply is positive and a demand is negative, so the peak demand is actually a negative value. Finally, the x_map option allows us to read a CSV file with a single column named “demand” and tell Calliope to load data from that column for region r1. This is necessary unless the column name(s) in the CSV file already correspond to the location names defined in the model configuration.

The remaining location definitions look like this:

        techs: ['demand_power', 'unmet_demand_power']
                x_map: 'r2: demand'
                    r: file=demand-2.csv
                    r_scale_to_peak: -5000

        within: r1
        techs: ['csp']

r2 is very similar to r1, except that it does not allow the ccgt technology. The three csp locations are defined together, i.e. they each get the exact same configuration. They are within the location r1 and allow only the csp technology, this allows us to model three possible sites for CSP plants within r1.

Locations that do not specify a within are implicitly at the topmost level. Transmission between locations at the topmost level can only take place if transmission links are defined between them. On the other hand, locations which are specified as within another location can automatically and without any losses transmit energy to and from their parent location. In other words, a topmost location and all its contained locations together are implicitly assumed to be on a “copperplate” together. That means there are no transmission constraints and no transmission losses between these locations. Balancing of supply and demand takes place only at the topmost level.

For transmission technologies, the model also needs to know which top-level locations can be linked, and this is set up in the model configuration as follows:

                e_cap.max: 10000

Files that define the model

The configuration definitions described above are in the YAML format, a simple human readable data serialization format, which is stored in text files with a .yaml (or .yml) extension. See YAML configuration file format for details.

The layout of the model directory, which also includes the time series data in CSV format, is as follows (+ denotes directories, - files):

+ example_model
   + model_config
      + data
         - csp_r.csv
         - demand-1.csv
         - demand-2.csv
         - set_t.csv
      - locations.yaml
      - model.yaml
      - techs.yaml
   - run.yaml

A complete listing of these configuration files is available in The built-in example model.

Inside the data directory, time series are stored as CSV files (their location is configured inside model.yaml). At a minimum, a model must always have a set_t.csv file which defines the model’s timesteps. For more details on this and on time series data more generally, refer to Using time series data.

The three files locations.yaml, model.yaml, and techs.yaml together are the model definition, and have been described above. There is one more YAML file, however: run.yaml. This tells Calliope how to run the model given by the model definition, and will be described next. To run a model in Calliope, these two basic components – a model definition and a run configuration – are always required.

The run configuration

At its most basic, the run configuration simply specifies which model to run, which mode to run it in, and what solver to use. These three options are the required minimum. In the case of the example model, we also specify some output options. The output options only apply when the calliope run command-line tool is used to run the model (see below).

name: "Test run"  # Run name -- distinct from model name!

model: 'model_config/model.yaml'

output:  # Only used if run via the 'calliope run' command-line tool
    format: csv  # Choices: netcdf, csv
    path: 'Output'  # Will be created if it doesn't exist

mode: plan  # Choices: plan, operate

solver: glpk

To speed up model runs, the built-in model’s run configuration also specifies a time subset:

subset_t: ['2005-01-01', '2005-01-05']  # Subset of timesteps

The included time series is hourly for a full year. The subset_t setting runs the model over only a subset of five days.

The full run.yaml file includes additional options, none of which are relevant for this tutorial. See the full file listing and the section on the run configuration for more details on the available options.

Plan vs. operate

A Calliope model can either be run in planning mode (mode: plan) or operational mode (mode: operate). In planning mode, an optimization problem is solved to design an energy system that satisfies the given constraints.

In operational mode, all max constraints (such as e_cap.max) are treated as fixed rather than as upper bounds. The resulting, fully defined energy system is then operated with a receding horizon control approach. The results are returned in exactly the same format as for planning mode results.

To specify a useful operational model, all locations will usually define overrides for options such as e_cap.max, for all their allowed technologies.

For this tutorial, we are only using the planning mode.

Running a model and analyzing results

Running interactively

The most straightforward way to run a Calliope model is to do so in an interactive Python session.

An example which also demonstrates some of the analysis possibilities after running a model is given in the following Jupyter notebook. Note that you can download and run this notebook on your own machine (if both Calliope and the Jupyter Notebook are installed):

Calliope interactive example notebook

Running with the command-line tool

Another way to run a Calliope model is to use the command-line tool calliope run. First, we create a new copy of the built-in example model, by using calliope new:

$ calliope new testmodel

This creates a new directory, testmodel, in the current working directory. We can now run this model:

$ calliope run testmodel/run.yaml

Because of the output options set in run.yaml, model results will be stored as a set of CSV files in the directory Output. Saving CSV files is an easy way to get results in a format suitable for further processing with other tools. In order to make use of Calliope’s analysis functionality, results should be saved as a single NetCDF file instead, which comes with improved performance and handling. See Analyzing results for more details, including the built-in functionality to read results from either CSV or NetCDF files, making them available for further analysis as described above (Running interactively).

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