LIMES - Long-term Investment Model for the Electricity Sector

LIMES modelling framework

LIMES is a linear optimization modelling framework that simultaneously determines cost-minimizing investment and dispatch decisions for generation, storage and transmission technologies that are needed in order to serve an exogenous future demand for electricity and to comply with future energy and climate policies. Its integrated approach together with an intertemporal optimization until 2050 allows for analyzing consistent and cost-efficient pathways for the future development of a power system – both on aggregate and on a regional level. The LIMES modelling framework has been applied in numerous peer-reviewed studies on the German (Ludig et al., 2015, 2011) and European power system (Knopf et al., 2015; Schmid and Knopf, 2015) as well as on an integrated system comprising Europe and the MENA region (Haller et al., 2012). Most recently, LIMES-EU was used to analyse the interaction between the EU ETS and the german coal phase-out (Pahle et al. 2019, Osorio et al. 2020), the more ambitious EU ETS targets (Pietzcker et al. 2021), and the potential implications of modifying the MSR (Osorio et al. 2021).


LIMES-EU is the latest version of LIMES. Most importantly, it includes a novel approach for better representing the temporal variability of wind and solar power (Nahmmacher et al., 2014a). The model comprises 25 of the 27 EU Member States (excluding Malta and Cyprus) plus Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Norway, and the Balkan region. Except for the Balkan region, all countries are represented as individual model regions in order to analyze both national and aggregate European results. 

Model documentation

Detailed model description most recent Version (March 2023): v2.38; older Versions: v2.37v2.36v2.35v2.26v1.0

The following figure summarizes the main features of LIMES-EU. 

LIMES-EU Model Overview

Papers using LIMES

Peer review

Haller, M., Ludig, S., Bauer, N., 2012. Decarbonization scenarios for the EU and MENA power system: Considering spatial distribution and short term dynamics of renewable generation. Energy Policy 47, 282–290. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2012.04.069

Knopf, B., Nahmmacher, P., Schmid, E., 2015. The European renewable energy target for 2030 – An impact assessment of the electricity sector. Energy Policy 85, 50–60. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2015.05.010

Ludig, S., Haller, M., Schmid, E., Bauer, N., 2011. Fluctuating renewables in a long-term climate change mitigation strategy. Energy 36, 6674–6685. doi:10.1016/

Ludig, S., Schmid, E., Haller, M., Bauer, N., 2015. Assessment of transformation strategies for the German power sector under the uncertainty of demand development and technology availability. Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev. 46, 143–156. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2015.02.044

Nahmmacher, P., Schmid, E., Hirth, L., Knopf, B., 2016a. Carpe diem: A novel approach to select representative days for long-term power system modeling. Energy 112, 430–442. doi:10.1016/

Nahmmacher, P., Schmid, E., Pahle, M., Knopf, B., 2016b. Strategies against shocks in power systems – An analysis for the case of Europe. Energy Econ. 59, 455–465. doi:10.1016/j.eneco.2016.09.002

Osorio, S., Pietzcker, R.C., Pahle, M., Edenhofer, O., 2020. How to deal with the risks of phasing out coal in Germany. Energy Econ. 87, 104730.

Osorio, S., Tietjen, O., Pahle, M., Pietzcker, R.C., Edenhofer, O., 2021. Reviewing the Market Stability Reserve in light of more ambitious EU ETS emission targets. Energy Policy 158, 112530.

Pahle, M., Tietjen, O., Osorio, S., Egli, F., Steffen, B., Schmidt, T. S., Edenhofer, O., 2022. Safeguarding the energy transition against political backlash to carbon markets. Nat. Energy 1–7.

Pietzcker, R.C., Osorio, S., Rodrigues, R., 2021. Tightening EU ETS targets in line with the European Green Deal: Impacts on the decarbonization of the EU power sector. Appl. Energy 293, 116914.

Schmid, E., Knopf, B., 2015. Quantifying the long-term economic benefits of European electricity system integration. Energy Policy 87, 260–269. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2015.09.026

Non-peer review

Pahle, M., Edenhofer, O., Pietzcker, R., Tietjen, O., Osorio, S., Flachsland, C., 2019. Die unterschätzten Risiken des Kohleausstiegs. Energiewirtschaftliche Tagesfragen 69, 1–4

Pahle, M., Tietjen, O., Osorio, S., Knopf, B., Flachsland, C., Korkmaz, P., Fahl, U., 2020. Die Anschärfung der EU-2030-Klimaziele und Implikationen für Deutschland. Energiewirtschaftliche Tagesfragen 70 Heft 7-8, 10-13