Press Release

RFF and EPRI Release Guide for Power Sector Modeling

Oct 18, 2017

WASHINGTON—The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Resources for the Future (RFF) released a jointly produced technical report today that examines the benefits of adding sophistication to models used to inform decisions about electric power sector investments, policy, and infrastructure.

The report, Systems Analysis in Electric Power Sector Modeling: Evaluating Model Complexity for Long-Range Planning, was prepared for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis. It can serve as a guide to understanding some approaches to incorporating greater systems analysis sophistication into power system modeling.

RFF Project Manager and Center Fellow Daniel Shawhan said of the new report, “Modeling is among the key tools required in the electric power sector for long-range planning and policy analysis. The RFF and EPRI team examined the effects of applying ‘systems analysis’ methods to make US electric sector modeling more realistic, which will ultimately help consumers.”

EPRI Project Manager and Senior Technical Leader John Bistline said: “The report is intended to help modelers decide which additions to their models will add value. The decisions they make then will be more likely to ensure a safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible future energy system.”

Specifically, the report examines the effects that greater sophistication can have on the outputs of power system models. The types of sophistication examined include more realistic representations of wind and solar energy, interregional electricity trade, fuel price uncertainty, and the price responsiveness of electricity consumption.

For example, the report finds that given the rapid cost reductions and deployment of wind and solar in the power sector, it is important to accurately represent unique features of these resources. They require more detailed temporal and spatial granularity than found presently in some widely used models. Omissions can distort analysis of technical and economic implications of wind, solar, and storage deployment and can therefore degrade the evaluation of related infrastructure and policies.

The analysis also underscores how natural gas prices materially impact policy outcomes and planning decisions, which increases the importance of related model considerations.

Read the full technical report: Systems Analysis in Electric Power Sector Modeling: Evaluating Model Complexity for Long-Range Planning.

Resources for the Future (RFF) does not take institutional positions. Please attribute any findings to the authors or the research itself. For example, use "According to research from RFF …" rather than "According to RFF …".

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Resources for the Future is an independent, nonpartisan organization that conducts rigorous economic research and analysis to help leaders make better decisions and craft smarter policies about natural resources and the environment.