MARKet ALlocation (MARKAL)

Jump to: navigation, search

An integrated energy systems modeling platform that can be used to analyze energy, economic, and environmental issues at the global, national, and municipal level over a timeframe of up to several decades. It is a set of software tools that may be used to quantify the impacts that policy options have on technology and resources.


The model employs demand for energy from the industrial, commercial, residential, and transportation sectors over a given timeframe, and information on available energy technologies to determine from where the demanded energy would originate. It ties these different components of the economy together through a Reference Energy System (RES), which links together the resource supplies, process technologies, and end-use technologies affecting the energy system. Then, subject to constraints defined by the user (such as limits on technology, or caps on various emissions), the model determines the least-cost mix of energy suppliers and technologies to satisfy energy demand.

When to Use This Tool

This tool is most useful for development impacts assessments focused on:

LEDS icon social bw.png


LEDS icon economic blue.png


LEDS icon environmental blue.png


Learn more about the topics for assessing the impacts of low-emission development strategies (LEDS).

Key Outputs

For the reference (business-as-usual) scenario: energy supply and demand curves; data on costs and benefits of technologies; emission profiles; energy chains and system costs. For the policy scenarios: economic, technological, environmental, and energy impacts; and gross domestic product and capital requirements.

How to Use This Tool

Training Available
Training on CGE/economic modeling approaches is advised; documentation and training materials are available online.

Level of Expertise

Key Inputs

Data on prices and taxes for energy technologies, emissions inventories, energy supply data (reserves and resources), macroeconomic variables (trade, etc.), current and historical supply and demand data, equilibrium prices and quantities of energy, environmental, and material commodities.

Case Studies

Examples of how MARKet ALlocation (MARKAL) has helped people assessing the impacts of low-emission development strategies in countries and regions:

Case studies of Western Europe and North America are available here:

"MARKAL, short for MARKet ALlocation, is a computer-driven, dynamic optimization model that uses upwards of 10,000 equations and constraints to foster strategic energy planning. By integrating energy, environmental, and economic factors, the MARKAL model provides energy system solutions to support national planning and policy decisions.

The MARKAL model identifies costs and benefits of alternative energy scenarios for the future. It also estimates the relative merits of specific technologies that can be applied in an energy system.

Originally sponsored by DOE and the International Energy Agency, the MARKAL model was developed at BNL for energy-system modeling and analysis in the late 1970s. The model now has widespread international acceptance, with more than 40 countries using it to analyze a broad range of issues in energy planning and environmental policy formulation. Current applications now include performing environmental analyses using MARKAL and international workshops on its use are regularly offered."[1]

Text below drawn from ETSAP website

Model Uses
  • to identify least-cost energy systems
  • to identify cost-effective responses to restrictions on emissions
  • to perform prospective analysis of long-term energy balances under different scenarios
  • to evaluate new technologies and priorities for R&D
  • to evaluate the effects of regulations, taxes, and subsidies
  • to project inventories of greenhouse gas emissions
  • to estimate the value of regional cooperation
Data Requirements Costs
  • Resource
  • Investment
  • Fixed
  • Variable
  • Fuel Delivery
  • Hurdle Rates
Technology Profiles
  • Fuels In/Out
  • Efficiency
  • Availability
  • Resource Supply Steps
  • Cumulative Resource Limits
  • Installed Capacity
  • New Investment
Environmental Impacts
  • Unit Emissions/Resource
  • Technology
  • Investment
  • Discount Rate
  • Seasonal/Day-Night Fractions
  • Electric Reserve Margin
Available Data NREL Energy Technology Cost and Performance Data DOE R&D Project Summaries XML Data United Kingdom MARKAL Energy Input Data
Technology Needed "The model runs on a personal computer with a Pentium processor (Windows95 and Office95 or higher for ANSWER)."
Case Studies/Effectiveness
Cost "MARKAL can be provided at no cost, but an ETSAP R&D contribution is expected from commercial and government institutions. In addition, you must buy a shell, an optimiser (e.g. OSL) and GAMS, the language in which the standard MARKAL model is written. Prices vary significantly, mainly because the price of GAMS depends on: Number of platforms and CPUs; Number of potential simultaneous users; Solvers you are interested in; and wheter you are an academic user. The total costs (MARKAL plus user-interface plus GAMS and solvers) range from about 3,300 USD for academic users up to 15,000 USD for unaffiliated commercial users."


  1. 1.0 1.1 MARKAL