Source: Science Daily

September 2014

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LEAP 2014: Faster, More Powerful, Built for Interaction

 

The newest version of SEI’s Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning system includes a new interactive scenario explorer, industrial strength optimization modeling capabilities, an enhanced and simplified user interface, and dramatic performance improvements.

We are pleased to announce a major new version of LEAP, SEI’s software tool for energy planning and climate change mitigation assessment. LEAP 2014 makes it easier to share and discuss modelling results with non-technical audiences, with improved charts and results tables, and a new Scenario Explorer (shown below) that lets you explore the implications of different policy choices, using "slider bars" directly connected to key parameters in your underlying LEAP models.

LEAP's New Scenario Explore

For example, a Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) might be modeled in LEAP, based on numerous separate Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in areas such as energy efficiency, fuel switching, renewables or reducing process emissions.  Each of these NAMAs can be individually modeled in LEAP as scenarios.You can then combine these to explore which overall strategy is preferable with respect to overall costs, emissions reduction potential, energy security and how the strategy contributes to national development objectives. This, combined with dramatic speed improvements and a new Full Screen View, makes LEAP even more useful for use in interactive settings such as LEDS stakeholder workshops.

Other key new features include:

  • Improved optimization: LEAP now provides "industrial strength" optimization capabilities by working seamlessly with IBM's CPLEX solver for increased speed and the ability to handle larger data sets.
  • Improved costing: Cost-benefit analysis has been improved and made more flexible with the new ability to model stranded costs (i.e. debt payments) on pre-existing capacity, and a new LoanPayment function to calculate remaining annualized costs.
  • Tags:  We have improved LEAP's organizational skills. You can now use color-coded tags to classify technologies that belong to more than one category; for example, power plants could be tagged as thermal, renewable or nuclear technologies, or as pre-existing or new types of power plants.
  • New ‘Create Branches from Excel’ wizard: Much of the data required for energy and climate planning is available in tabular form in spreadsheets. A new wizard lets you create the technology data in your LEAP models by directly importing from these spreadsheet tables, reducing tedious data entry tasks and automatically converting data into consistent measurement units.
  • Simplified and more robust user interface: Operation of LEAP is now simpler and more consistent across different views, with new one-click options and several interface refinements, especially to auto-complete features that help users write their model expressions.  Charts and tables have been upgraded making them more beautiful and easier to interpret, and directly usable in your reports.
  • Thoroughly updated help: LEAP's help files reflect all the changes in LEAP 2014, with improved formatting and additional pages devoted to describing important concepts such as capacity expansion planning and the new Scenario Explorer and Tags features.

As always, the new version is fully backwards compatible with previous versions. Older data sets will be automatically upgraded when opened in the new version. LEAP also creates backups of previous versions for safety.

Read more about the new features here. 


LEAP used to support countries tackling short-lived climate pollutants


Climate change is driven primarily by the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and sharply reducing CO2 emissions is the top priority in the effort to avoid dangerous long-term impacts. But pollutants that don't remain in the atmosphere for long, such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and black carbon (soot), play an important role in the short term, with particularly large impacts in urban areas and sensitive regions such as the Arctic. They also affect human health, crop yields and ecosystems.

In February 2012, aiming to catalyze rapid action on these pollutants, the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden and the U.S. and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC).

Since then, the coalition has grown to 66 partners: 33 countries and 33 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. SEI, which coordinated two major scientific reports on short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) that have guided much of the coalition's work, has been involved from the start, and has made it an institutional priority to support CCAC. SEI Policy Director Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, an expert in air pollution issues, sits on the coalition's Science Advisory Panel, and he also leads an initiative to help countries develop SLCPs National Action Plans, and is coordinating a new regional assessment of SLCPs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As part of the planning initiative, SEI has developed a tool, based on LEAP, to assess the potential for mitigating SLCP emissions in each country. The new LEAP-SLCP tool is part of a CCAC National Action Plans "toolkit" that also includes a Rapid Benefits Calculator developed by SEI's York Centre and the BenMAP-CE tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which focuses on the health benefits of reducing air pollution.

The toolkit got its first trial runs in the pilot phase of the national planning initiative, which began in January with four countries: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana and Mexico. Initial results were presented at a CCAC meeting in Mexico City on July 22-26, where the coalition also approved $1.9 million USD in new funding to support additional countries' national planning efforts. CCAC members also approved more than $3 million in new funding for initiatives to address SLCP emissions from household cooking and heating, brick kilns and landfills.

  • For an overview of the science of SLCPs and the benefits of addressing them, watch a video with SEI's Kevin Hicks.

  • To learn more about CCAC, visit www.unep.org/ccac; a summary of the meeting is available here.

  • To learn more about the LEAP-SLCP tool, contact the LEAP developer Charlie Heaps directly.