Engage Energy Modeling Tool

The Engage™ modeling tool makes cross-sectoral energy system planning and simulation easier and more accessible.

This publicly available, free tool models energy systems with high shares of variable generation and storage at geographic scales ranging from remote villages and urban districts to islands and entire continents. Its integrated visualization capabilities let users view the results of modeled scenarios to better understand the trade-offs and interdependencies involved in energy system transformations.

Ultimately, the Engage modeling tool will help anyone tasked with:

  • Planning electricity generation and transmission assets
  • Analyzing the cost, land, and infrastructure implications of complex energy decisions
  • Communicating the impacts of specific tactics for realizing energy goals
  • Identifying the most economic path to achieving energy sector transition.

NREL developed Engage in collaboration with the Hawaii State Energy Office. The U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Transitions Initiative and Solar Energy Technologies Office funded the effort.

Cloud-Based Tool Expands Engagement in Energy Planning

The Engage modeling tool empowers more stakeholders to understand and engage in transformational energy decisions.

Three people looking at a wall-sized, data visualization.
Model collaboration using Engage- integrated HAVEN visualization framework. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL 57782

Engage makes energy system planning accessible via a user-friendly, collaborative web application with convenient "in-the-cloud" scenario data management, allowing geographically separated team members to work together on shared models. The tool also integrates communicative visualization capabilities to support understanding, discussion, and deliberation around energy ecosystem scenarios among diverse stakeholder groups.

Engage is built around Calliope, a tested and well-documented open-source modeling framework for cross-sectoral energy simulation and planning.

Input Data Supports Strategic Decision Making

Economic dispatch (production cost) and capacity expansion modeling weigh heavily in energy system planning. Engage provides energy decision makers and planners access to modeling future energy scenarios based on specific community and geography energy needs and goals.

Economic Dispatch Modeling

Economic dispatch, or production cost modeling, takes a given generation and transmission system and determines the lowest-cost way to operate it while maintaining reliability under uncertainty and other constraints (e.g., emissions reduction mandates).

For more information, see the Department of Energy presentation Overview of Power Sector Modeling.

Data Sets

The following data characterizing the base system are recommended but not required:

  • Time series – demand (load) and resource (e.g., wind or solar) profiles
  • Existing capacities – nameplate or power carrying capacities of existing supply (e.g., fuel sources or electrical supplies), conversion (e.g., generators that convert fuel energy to electrical energy), storage (e.g., fuel storage or electrical storage), and transmission technologies(e.g., pipelines or transmission lines)
  • Technology attributes – applicable to technology type, such as efficiency, minimum load and, capacity planning.

Data requirements depend on the system being modeled and goals of the analysis.

Capacity Expansion Modeling

Capacity expansion modeling simulates and optimizes generation and transmission capacity costs given assumptions about future electricity demand, fuel prices, technology cost and performance, and policy and regulation.

Data Sets

The following data sets are needed to specify capacity constraints of potential new technology:

  • Maximum and (optionally) minimum capacities – for technologies being sized for investment, maximum nameplate power capacity; for storage, maximum nameplate energy storage capacity
  • Investment costs – cost of power capacity, cost of energy storage capacity, cost of money (interest rate or weighted average cost of capital), depreciation rate and cost per acre of land (useful for some renewable energy generation technologies)
  • System-level constraints – maximum or minimum share of nameplate capacity that must consist of a technology or combination of technologies.


For more information about Engage and our fee-based technical assistance for Engage configuration and visualization, please contact engage@nrel.gov.