By switching to dark mode you can reduce the energy consumption of our digital service.

Low Emissions Analysis Platform (LEAP)

LEAP, the Low Emissions Analysis Platform, is a widely-used software tool for energy policy analysis and climate change mitigation assessment developed at the Stockholm Environment Institute.
LEAP text with images of fire, the sky, fields, and solar panels within the letters

This tool is part of the SEI Urban Toolbox for Liveable Cities which has been developed by the SEI Initiative on City Health and Wellbeing. The Urban Toolbox is a collection of tools, developed within SEI or in coordination with SEI, aimed at supporting planning and decision-making for improving the health, well-being and resilience of city residents and urban systems more broadly.


About this tool

LEAP, the Low Emissions Analysis Platform, is a powerful, versatile software system for integrated energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation and air pollution abatement planning. It is a modelling tool for energy, environmental, and economic analysis that can be used to explore co-benefits of climate mitigation, including for air quality and health.

How does this tool work?

LEAP is an integrated, scenario-based modeling tool that can be used to track energy consumption, production and resource extraction in all sectors of an economy. It can be used to account for both energy sector and non-energy sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources and sinks. In addition to tracking GHGs, LEAP can also be used to analyze emissions of local and regional air pollutants, and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) making it well-suited to studies of the climate co-benefits of local air pollution reduction.

LEAP is used by many countries for informing energy policy, climate mitigation policy, and supporting air pollution policy analysis at the national, multi-national or sub-national scales.

LEAP is available free of charge to qualified academic, governmental, and non-profit organizations based in low and middle-income countries and to students worldwide. Consulting companies, utilities and other businesses can access LEAP through a licensing arrangement. A read-only version of LEAP is also available at no cost to all users.

Who might use this tool?

LEAP is used by:

  • Government Agencies
  • Academics
  • Non-governmental Organizations
  • Consultants
  • Utility Companies

LEAP is becoming the de facto standard for countries undertaking GHG mitigation assessments and creating Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDs).

Which stakeholders are involved?

Government Agencies, Academics, Non-governmental Organizations, Consultants, Utility Companies

What stage of the process does this tool support?

As an integrated, scenario-based modeling tool, LEAP can be used at different stages of an assessment including:

  • defining the assessment
  • generating ideas
  • developing solutions
  • implementation
  • monitoring
  • evaluation

Tool Overview

Modelling Methodologies

LEAP is not a model of a particular energy system, but rather a tool that can be used to create models of different energy systems, where each requires its own unique data structures. LEAP supports a wide range of different modeling methodologies: on the demand side these range from bottom-up, end-use accounting techniques to top-down macroeconomic modeling. LEAP also includes a range of optional specialized methodologies including stock-turnover modeling for areas such as transport planning. On the supply side, LEAP provides a range of accounting, simulation and optimization methodologies that are powerful enough for modeling electric sector generation and capacity expansion planning, and which are also sufficiently flexible and transparent to allowLEAP to easily incorporate data and results from other more specialized models.

LEAP operates at two basic conceptual levels. At one level, LEAP’s built-in calculations handle all of the “non controversial” energy, emissions and cost-benefit accounting calculations. At the second level, users enter spreadsheet-like expressions that can be used to specify time-varying data or to create a wide variety of sophisticated multi-variable models, thus enabling econometric and simulation approaches to be embedded within LEAP’s overall accounting framework. The newest versions of LEAP also support optimization modeling: allowing for the construction of least cost models of electric system capacity expansion and dispatch, potentially under various constraints such as limits of CO2 or local air pollution.

Time Frame

LEAP is intended as a medium- to long-term modeling tool. Most of its calculations occur on an annual time-step, and the time horizon can extend for an unlimited number of years. Studies typically include both a historical period known as the Current Accounts, in which the model is run to test its ability to replicate known statistical data, as well as multiple forward looking scenarios. Typically, most studies use a forecast period of between 20 and 50 years.

Scenario Analysis

LEAP is designed around the concept of scenario analysis. Scenarios are self-consistent storylines of how an energy system might evolve over time.

The LEAP Scenario Manager, can be used to describe individual policy measures which can then be combined in different combinations and permutations into alternative integrated scenarios. This approach allows policy makers to assess the impact of an individual policy as well as the interactions that occur when multiple policies and measures are combined.

Tools for Creating Models

LEAP includes a number of built-in tools that make it easy to create complex models and projections. The time-series wizard lets you create interpolations, step functions and various trend forecasts either by entering data directly into LEAP or by importing data or creating a link to an Excel spreadsheet.

The Expression Builder lets you construct complex models that use LEAP’s large library of built-in functions as well as references to other data and results calculated within LEAP. Variable references can be constructed graphically by simply dragging and dropping branches from the main tree data structure into the Expression Builder tool. To help debug these models, the Expression Builder also provides check-as-you type validation of modeling expressions, displaying any syntax or run-time error messages on a toolbar in real-time.


In addition to its modeling capabilities, LEAP can now also be used as a tool for calculating, evaluating and displaying many social, economic, and energy-related development indicators. A range of functions are available that make it easy to create composite normalized indicators that compare results across regions or that evaluate the performance of alternative scenarios. A wide variety of indicators can be generated including 5 and 10 star scores, rankings and z-scores.

Application: LEAP case study examples

Using LEAP to achieve Green House Gas (GHG) reduction targets: this case study uses LEAP to create a model of Vermont to explore scenarios that achieve the Green House Gas (GHG) reduction targets for 2025, 2030 and 2050 set out in the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act.

Capabilities and resources required

Flexibility and Ease-of Use

LEAP has developed a reputation among its users for presenting complex energy analysis concepts in a transparent and intuitive way. At the same time, LEAP is flexible enough for users with a wide range of expertise: from leading global experts who wish to design polices and demonstrate their benefits to decision makers to trainers who want to build capacity among young analysts who are embarking on the challenge of understanding the complexity of energy systems.

Hardware and Software Requirements

LEAP is a single-user system that operates on any standard PC using Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. An Internet connection is not required, but is useful for online access to updates, technical support and additional data sets. Similarly, LEAP is designed to work closely with Microsoft Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel, although these are not required. LEAP is not designed to run on Apple or Linux computers.

Implementation tips: key enablers and potential barriers


LEAP includes extensive documentation and context-sensitive help. The help system, which contains over 300 pages of help, can be accessed from anywhere in the program using standard help keys or a point-and-click “What’s this?” help system. In addition, succinct “balloon help” messages are available for all on-screen elements (buttons, menu options and all variables). LEAP even includes a tip-of-the-day feature, which helps users to deepen their knowledge as they use LEAP.

Training and Capacity Building

LEAP’s design as a comprehensive decision support system, has allowed it to develop a reputation among its users for presenting complex energy analysis concepts in a transparent and intuitive way. “LEAP is the only substantial energy modeling software that is reasonably accessible to energy consultants who are not modeling specialists,” says Mark Borchers, Director of Sustainable Energy Africa.

For over twenty years LEAP has been an important tool in the training and capacity building programmes of many national and international institutions in all major regions of the world. SEI has created a range of training materials designed to support these efforts. These have been translated into various languages and have been applied by SEI and its partners in a huge number of seminars and training workshops worldwide. The training materials are designed to draw out typical energy-environment policy dilemmas, and to encourage trainees to think about the tradeoffs inherent in different policy options.

Technical Support

The LEAP web site, is a web-based initiative designed to foster a community among developing country energy planners and to provide support to users of LEAP and other energy modeling tools. The site is open to all at no charge, and includes discussion forums where users can receive technical support from SEI and peer-to-peer support from other LEAP users. The site also has links to reference materials including descriptions of LEAP Applications, an online library of useful data sources and guidebooks for energy analysis.

While LEAP is designed to be as user-friendly as possible and is, we believe, significantly easier to use than other similar energy modeling tools, nevertheless it remains a relatively complex tool. Most users will therefore typically need training for about one week before they can use it effectively. Training is available through SEI and its regional partner organizations. We organize regular LEAP training workshops in various regions of the world. Please check the LEAP web site for news of these. Alternatively, please contact SEI to request a quotation for a training workshop for a particular country, economy or organization.

Potential Barriers

Limited access to the required hardware and software, as well as the cost of accessing LEAP may be potential barriers for some users.

Potential integration with other tools

This tool could be integrated or used along side other tools to conduct scenario based modeling.

Related resources

Add your project

Exchange your climate change adaptation projects and lessons learned with the global community.