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Model Documentation - MESSAGE-GLOBIOM

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Model information
Model link
Institution International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria,
Solution concept General equilibrium (closed economy)
Solution method Optimization

The MESSAGEix modelling framework (Model for Energy Supply Strategy Alternatives and their General Environmental Impact), MESSAGEix for short, is a linear programming (LP) energy engineering model with global coverage. As a systems engineering optimization model, MESSAGEix is used for medium- to long-term energy system planning, energy policy analysis, and scenario development (Huppman et al., 2019[1]; Messner and Strubegger, 1995[2] 1). The model provides a framework for representing an energy system with all its interdependencies from resource extraction, imports and exports, conversion, transport, and distribution, to the provision of energy end-use services such as light, space conditioning, industrial production processes, and transportation. In addition, MESSAGEix links to GLOBIOM (GLObal BIOsphere Model, cf. Section Land-use of MESSAGEix-GLOBIOM) to consistently assess the implications of utilizing bioenergy of different types and to integrate the GHG emissions from energy and land us,e and to the aggregated macro-economic model MACRO (cf. Section Macro-economy of MESSAGEix-GLOBIOM) to assess economic implications and to capture economic feedbacks.

MESSAGEix covers all greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting sectors, including energy, industrial processes as well as - through its linkage to GLOBIOM - agriculture and forestry. The emissions of the full basket of greenhouse gases, including CO2, CH4, N2O and F-gases (CF4, C2F6, HFC125, HFC134a, HFC143a, HFC227ea, HFC245ca and SF6), as well as other radiatively active gases, such as NOx, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO, SO2, and BC/OC, is represented in the model. MESSAGEix is used in conjunction with MAGICC (Model for Greenhouse gas Induced Climate Change) version 6.8 (cf. Section Climate of MESSAGEix-GLOBIOM) to calculate atmospheric concentrations, radiative forcing, and annual-mean global surface air temperature increase.

The model is designed to formulate and evaluate alternative energy supply strategies consistent with user-defined constraints such as limits on new investment, fuel availability and trade, environmental regulations and policies as well as diffusion rates of new technology. Environmental aspects can be analysed by accounting for, and if necessary limiting, the amount of pollutants emitted by various technologies at various steps in energy supply. This helps to evaluate the impact of environmental regulations on energy system development.

Its principal results comprise, among others, estimates of technology-specific multi-sector response strategies for specific climate stabilization targets. The model thus identifies the least-cost portfolio of mitigation technologies. The choice of individual mitigation options across gases and sectors is driven by the relative economics of abatement measures, assuming full temporal and spatial flexibility (i.e., emissions-reduction measures are assumed to occur when and where they are cheapest to implement).

The Reference Energy System (RES) defines the total set of available energy conversion technologies. In MESSAGEix terms, energy conversion technology refers to all types of energy technology, from resource extraction to transformation, transport, distribution of energy carriers, and end-use technologies.

Because few conversion technologies convert resources directly into useful energy, the energy system in MESSAGEix is divided into 5 energy levels:

  • Resource (r) - raw resources (e.g., coal, oil, natural gas in the ground or biomass on the field)
  • Primary (a) energy - raw product at a generation site (e.g., crude oil input to the refinery)
  • Secondary (x) energy - final product at a generation site (e.g., gasoline or diesel fuel output from the refinery)
  • Final (f) energy - final product at its consumption point (e.g., gasoline in the tank of a car or electricity leaving a socket)
  • Useful (u) energy - final product satisfying demand for services (e.g., heating, lighting or moving people)

Technologies can take in energy commodities from one level and put them out at another level (e.g., refineries produce refined oil products at a secondary level from crude oil input at the primary level) or at the same level (e.g., hydrogen electrolyzers produce hydrogen at the secondary energy level from electricity at the secondary level). The energy forms defined in each level can be envisioned as a transfer hub that the various technologies feed into or pump away from. The useful energy demand is given as a time series. Technology characteristics generally vary over time periods.

The mathematical formulation of MESSAGEix ensures that the flows are consistent: demand is met, inflows equal outflows and constraints are not exceeded. In other words, MESSAGEix is itself a partial equilibrium model. However, through its linkag to MACRO, general equilibrium effects are taken into account.

  1. Daniel Huppmann, Matthew Gidden, Oliver Fricko, Peter Kolp, Clara Orthofer, Michael Pimmer, Nikolay Kushin, Adriano Vinca, Alessio Mastrucci, Keywan Riahi, and Volker Krey. The messageix integrated assessment model and the ix modeling platform (ixmp): an open framework for integrated and cross-cutting analysis of energy, climate, the environment, and sustainable development. Environmental Modelling & Software, 112:143–156, 2019. doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2018.11.012.
  2. Sabine Messner and Manfred Strubegger. User’s Guide for MESSAGE III. 1995. URL:


  1. ^  |  Sabine Messner, Manfred Strubegger (1995). User's Guide for MESSAGE III.International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).