Skip to main content

Electrification Futures Study Modeling Approach

To quantitatively answer the research questions of the Electrification Futures Study, researchers will use multiple state-of-the-art models and analytic tools. To the fullest extent possible, they will also rely on engineering assessments using bottom-up approaches to develop future scenarios and analyze their implications. The methods and results will be peer-reviewed, and data and assumptions will be made publicly available.

Economy-Wide Model

We will use an open-source energy planning tool called EnergyPATHWAYS representing all demand sectors—buildings, industry, and transportation—to generate future electricity consumption scenarios. Key features include a high spatial resolution, a rich set of technology options, and accounting for infrastructure inertia through stock turnover.

Load Modeling: Demand-Side Grid Model

We have developed the demand-side grid (dsgrid) model, a new highly resolved model to simulate electricity consumption patterns using bottom-up representations of multiple end-use technologies across all major economic sectors—transportation, residential and commercial buildings, and industry—for every county in the contiguous United States. The consumption profiles are available by subsector and end use as well as in aggregate.

Future research to be presented in forthcoming EFS publications will rely on dsgrid to analyze the hourly electricity consumption under scenarios with various levels of electrification. In addition to providing electricity consumption data for the planned EFS analysis, dsgrid can be used for other analysis outside the EFS research umbrella.

Electric Sector Capacity Expansion Models

We'll simulate the evolution of the U.S. electricity system, from today through 2050, using NREL's high spatial resolution capacity expansion models: Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) and Distributed Generation Market Demand (dGen). These tools have been used in many groundbreaking studies of the changing U.S. power system, including the Renewable Electricity Futures Study, the SunShot Vision Study, On the Path to SunShot series, Wind Vision, and the Hydropower Vision study.

Unit Commitment and Economic Dispatch Model

To simulate the subhourly system operations for a 2050 grid, we will use Energy Exemplar's PLEXOS production cost model. NREL has applied PLEXOS in numerous large-scale renewable grid integration studies, such as the Eastern Renewable Grid Integration Study and the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2.