BLOG 5 - Model for Energy Supply Strategy Alternatives and their General Environmental Impact (MESSAGE)

Published on: 09/07/2020

Energy services are a fundamental human need and are thus indispensable for human well-being. Indeed, inadequate access to safe, clean and affordable energy is closely linked to a range of social concerns, including reduced economic and social opportunities contributing to poverty, poor health, and reduced educational attainment.

The International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA) developed an Energy Program (ENE) to better understand the nature of alternative future energy transitions, their implications for human well-being and the environment and how they might be shaped and directed by current and future decision-makers.

Since its beginnings, IIASA’s Energy Program ENE developed several energy analytics tools, including the Model for Energy Supply Strategy Alternatives and their General Environmental Impact (MESSAGE).

What MESSAGE does

MESSAGE is a systems engineering optimisation model used for the planning medium to long-term energy systems, analysing climate change policies, and developing scenario, for national or global regions.

Typical scenario outputs of the model provide information on the utilisation of domestic resources, energy imports, and exports and trade-related monetary flows, investment requirements, the types of production or conversion technologies selected (technology substitution), pollutant emissions (traditional indoor and outdoor air pollutants as well as greenhouse gases), and inter-fuel substitution processes, as well as temporal trajectories for primary, secondary, final, and useful energy. MESSAGE is also increasingly used for detailed analysis of energy demand issue, such as for policy analysis of energy access in the residential sector.

The energy model MESSAGE, can be used in conjunction with other tools to address complex and interrelated sustainability issues that involve energy systems and their interactions with other major economic sectors. In particular, the model can be used with the land-use model GLOBIOM, the air pollution and GHG model GAINS, the aggregated macro-economic model MACRO and the simple climate model MAGICC, creating a framework that covers all major sectors, including agriculture, forestry, energy, and industrial sources, permitting a concurrent assessment of how to address major sustainability challenges.


MESSAGE is used from different countries to built or design their energy strategies at the national level. The modelling results provides the quantitative bases for different ministries to define and discuss the national targets. Scenarios provided by the model are useful to initiate policy dialogues and make informed choices, based on scientific insights, and show to the decision-makers the possibilities between these different choices.