OPERA is an optimization model based on linear programming. It represents the entire energy system of the Netherlands, including bunker fuels, feedstocks, and all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions. It is possible to optimize for individual years and over years (a dynamic optimization). The user can define several policy-relevant targets, like a GHG reduction target, a final energy consumption target, etc. Furthermore, individual technologies, groups of technologies, and resources can be restricted by maxima or minima. For example, a maximum capacity potential for wind offshore can be set. The model will decide if this maximum is needed.

OPERA uses time slices, in which hours with a similar character are grouped in the same time slice. Input data with an hourly resolution are aggregated in these time slices. Examples of hourly input data are hourly wind speeds and the hourly electricity demand profile for the household sector. The time-slice settings can also be set such that an n-hourly resolution is achieved.

The driver of the model is the energy demand. The most significant amount of demand is determined via service demands. Examples are a predefined amount of tons of steel that need to be produced, passenger kilometers that need to be driven by cars, etc. In all these cases, the model determines what technologies are used to fulfill these service demands. Therefore, the final demand for energy carriers is not predefined in advance. For the remaining part of the energy system, which is too small to represent individual types of service demand, a remaining final electricity and heat demand per sector needs to be fulfilled.

The user can subdivide the Netherlands into regions. These regions can be connected via transmission infrastructure. Import and export of electricity with neighboring countries is not determined endogenously, but is covered by coupling the model to a European electricity market model.

For more information, see Netbeheer Nederland datasheet about OPERA