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Simulation models for the design of transition paths towards a sustainable society (3ed 2022) UNED

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Este curso es de autoaprendizaje por lo que no habrá apoyo docente.


This MOOC will help students reach the competences in the use of simulation tools for the evaluation of economy, energy and environment systems, and, specifically, the MEDEAS tools developed in the MEDEAS project.

Learning Objectives

Climate change and the management of energy resources are two major problems that the global society of the 21st century must tackle urgently. However, the large number of variables and relationships that involve these problems make decision making very complex. This difficulty has resulted in the development of simulation tools called Integrated Assessment Models (IAM), designed to guide decision-making on energy, economy and environment. The main objective of this course is to describe an innovative IAM that has been developed in the MEDEAS project. The MEDEAS project is funded by EU under the framework of the Horizon 2020 program and it forms part of the LCE21-2015 group, together with the projects Reflex, REEEM and SET-Nav.


The course begins by introducing sustainability problems and simulation tools that are used to guide decision-making on energy, economics and climate change. The following NOOCS is oriented to describe the IAM MEDEAS modules, their structure and use. The ultimate goal of the course is to encourage students to use this free tool in order to find the best ways to transition towards a low carbon society.

Prerequisites/participant background

Although no requirement is necessary in order to take the course, except for the knowledge of the English language, prior knowledge is recommended in the following subjects:

  • Energy (resources, generation, transport and consumption)
  • Economy (economic sectors, world economy)
  • Sustainable development and climate change.
  • Simulation models and use of computer applications.

Academic Team

This course has been developed in the framework of the European project MEDEAS with the direct or indirect participation of the researchers of every project partner.

The collaboration with researchers from the LCE21-2015 projects: Reflex, REEEM and SET-Nav was also established. The final development of the course was the responsibility of the GEEDS research group of the University of Valladolid (in alphabetic order): David Álvarez Antelo, Ignacio de Blas Sanz, Íñigo Capellán Pérez, Óscar Carpintero, Carlos de Castro, Carmen Duce Díaz, José María Enríquez Sánchez, Noelia Ferreras Alonso, Fernando Frechoso, Luis Fernando Lobejón, Pedro L. Lomas, Margarita Mediavilla Pascual, Luis Javier Miguel González (coordinator), Jaime Nieto, Gonzalo Parrado Hernando and Paula Rodrigo González.

General Information

The course lasts six weeks with an estimated 5 hours of work per week. Each week will focus on a certain topic. There are two short videos of an approximate duration of ten minutes for each topic, reference documentation for the subject, auxiliary materials, tasks for the student and a self-assessment questionnaire.

MOOC Structure

The MOOC is structured into six topics and each consists of two sessions.

  • Topic 1. Introduction. Session 1: About the idea of sustainability
  • The aim of this introductory session is to present some key issues of the global environmental crisis we are facing and the project "Modelling the Energy Development under Environmental and Socioeconomic constraints" (MEDEAS) as a tool to analyse and test public policies, in order to transition towards a low carbon energy system.

  • Topic 1. Introduction. Session 2: Introduction to Integrated Modelling of Economic-Energy-Environment Scenarios
  • This session is explains the concept of the Integrated Assessment Model (IAM) and the first general vision of the set of IAMs developed in the European project of the H2020 program: MEDEAS. In addition, other projects that have been developed in the same call are presented, under the topic: "Modelling and Analysing the energy system, its transformation and impacts".

  • Topic 2. The MEDEAS Economy Module. Session 1: Theoretical Framework of the MEDEAS’ Economy Module
  • This session includes a brief description of the theoretical and methodological framework of the MEDEAS Economy Module. The ecological economics approach, whereby the economy is depicted as metabolic process subject to biophysical boundaries, is described. Moreover, the MEDEAS Economy Module main features and situation regarding the current literature are explained.

  • Topic 2. MEDEAS Economy Module. Session 2: Modelling the MEDEAS’ Economy Module
  • This session describes the main methodological features of the MEDEAS Economy Module. The general functioning of the macroeconomic model is explained step by step, paying special attention to the integration of Input-Output analysis and System Dynamics modelling. The most important innovation of the Economy Module, i.e. the Energy-Economy feedback, is also described. Finally, some examples of the simulations are shown, highlighting the relevance of energy constraints inclusion to macroeconomic modelling.

  • Topic 3. Energy. Session 1: Energy resources
  • This session explains the great importance of energy in the development of our societies and humanity, in general, the current stagnation in non-renewable energy sources production and the peak oil concept, the EROEI (energy return on energy invested) concept and the challenges of renewable energy sources for filling the gap left by the other energy sources.

  • Topic 3. Energy. Session 2: Energy module implementation
  • This session describes the main features of the energy module in MEDEAS and explains the modelling of non-renewable energy sources, renewable infrastructures for electricity and heat, as well as different types of bioenergy considered in MEDEAS.

  • Topic 4. Energy infrastructures and Land-use. Session 1: Materials, Transport and EROI in MEDEAS
  • This session includes a brief description of the infrastructures needed for a society based on renewable energy in broad terms. It reviews the way in which MEDEAS models the renewable energy infrastructure growth (seen in Topic 3) and describes the modelling of Transportation, mineral use and static and dynamic EROI in MEDEAS.

  • Topic 4. Energy infrastructures and Land-use. Session 2: Land use in MEDEAS
  • This session explores the land requirements associated with renewable energy expansion. First, it reviews the problem of land in energy transition. Second, the MEDEAS land-use module is explained describing main characteristics of modelling. Third, examples of the land requirements of energy patterns are presented, too. Finally, different conflicts, due to the increasing land use by the energy system, are shown.

  • Topic 5. Climate Change. Session 1: Human interference in the climate system and climate modelling in MEDEAS
  • This session includes a brief description of the biosphere functioning and how human activities are modifying the climate of the Earth. Afterwards, the modelling of climate in MEDEAS is overviewed.

  • Topic 5. Climate Change. Session 2: Modelling of climate change damages in MEDEAS
  • This session outlines the main impacts which may be caused by climate change on human and natural systems, overviews the conventional results from business-as-usual scenarios in IAMs, and explains how these are modelled in MEDEAS applying a novel, simple and transparent method in order to be consistent with climate impact assessments.

  • Topic 6. Running the MEDEAS Model. Policies and Scenarios. Session 1: Introduction to Energy and Climate Change policies and scenarios
  • This session includes a brief description of the current climate governance framework, deeply conditioned by the set of policies emerging from the Paris Agreement. Besides, the relevance of scenarios modelling is highlighted, and the most known scenarios framework is shortly described: the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs).

  • Topic 6. Running the MEDEAS Model. Policies and Scenarios. Session 2: Implementing scenarios in MEDEAS
  • This session shows the process of running a simulation in the MEDEAS model. It begins with files management, then scenarios and policy targets are set and finally, a simulation is run. To finish this last session, there are examples of outcomes from the previously run simulation, according to the scenarios and policies chosen.






This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 691287

  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

    09 June 2022
  3. Classes End

    20 December 2022
  4. Estimated Effort

  5. Price como oyente

  6. Price del certificado (1 ECTS)

  7. Price de la credencial