MOOC Course

The MEDEAS MOOC "Simulation models for the design of transition paths towards a sustainable society" is available at the UNED MOOC platform


This MOOC will support students in obtaining competences in the use of simulation tools for the evaluation of economy, energy and environment systems. Specifically, it will demonstrate the MEDEAS tools developed in the MEDEAS project.


Climate change and the management of energy resources are two major problems that the global society of the 21st century must urgently tackle. However, the large number of variables and relationships that these problems involve make decision making very complex. The need to address this problem 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 the EU under the framework of the Horizon 2020 program and it belongs to the LCE21-2015 group, together with the projects Reflex, REEEM and SET-Nav.


The course starts by introducing sustainability problems and simulation tools that are used to guide decision-making on energy, economics and climate change. The MOOC 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 explore the best pathways for a transition to a low carbon society.


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

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


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, and the collaboration of the LCE21-2015 projects: Reflex, REEEM and SET-Nav. The final development of the course was the responsibility of the  University of Valladolid (in alphabetical 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. 


The duration of the course is six weeks with an estimated 5 hour-workload per week. Each week focuses on a certain topic. There are two short videos of an approximate 10-minute duration for each topic, reference documentation for the topic, auxiliary materials, tasks for the student and a self-assessment questionnaire.


The MOOC is structured into six topics and each of these 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 and the project "Modelling the Energy Development under Environmental and Socioeconomic constraints" (MEDEAS) as a tool to analyse and test public policies for the transition towards a low carbon energy system.

  • 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 participated 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 a metabolic process subject to biophysical boundaries, is described. Moreover, the MEDEAS Economy Module main features and situation regarding the current literature are explained.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. Then the modelling of climate in MEDEAS is presented.

  • 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).

  • 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.


  • Course Number at UNED platform: SMD_001
  • Participation costs: Free
  • The course is available 100% online, it is available immediately and it allows you to learn at your own pace
  • Estimated Effort: 25 h
  • Price of Certificate (1ECTS): 40€
  • Language: English with English Subtitles
  • Registration: