Resource Planning Model

The Resource Planning Model (RPM) is a capacity expansion model designed for a regional power system, such as a utility service territory, state, or balancing authority.

An image of a overlapping circles labelled Resource, Technical, Economic, and Market Potential that include the key assumptions for each segment on a bullet list inside it.

Combined nodal and zonal structure of the Colorado-centric RPM

Enlarge nodal and zonal structure image

RPM applies NREL's extensive experience with national-level capacity expansion modeling, particularly the NREL Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model and production cost simulations to regional electric system planning—to capture how increased renewable deployment might impact regional planning decisions for clean energy or carbon mitigation analysis. Model versions for regions within the Western Interconnection are currently available for research applications and an Eastern Interconnection version is under development.

RPM includes an optimization model that finds the least-cost investment and dispatch solution over a 20-year planning horizon. The model investment decisions are made for multiple conventional and renewable generation technologies, storage technologies, and transmission. The model has high spatial resolution to represent the grid network (down to the individual unit and line for a "focus region" of interest) and multiple solar and wind spatial resource regions. Dispatch modeling within RPM is conducted using hourly time-steps sampled throughout a year, and the model considers energy balance, reserves, and many generator constraints (Figure 2). Transmission constraints are represented with a transport (pipe-flow) model or a linearized DC power flow algorithm. The model accounts for boundary interactions (e.g., changing power and energy transfers between balancing areas) using a zonal representation of the entire interconnection while retaining the nodal resolution for the focus region (Figure 1). RPM, which is developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, was designed specifically to consider the characteristics of wind and solar technology resources—that is, location-dependence, variability, and uncertainty—in its investment decisions; it accounts for distance-based interconnections, endogenous capacity credits, increased operating reserve requirements, curtailment, transmission congestion, and cycling costs to better assess the economic costs and value of competing electricity technologies.

An image of a overlapping circles labelled Resource, Technical, Economic, and Market Potential that include the key assumptions for each segment on a bullet list inside it.

RPM hourly dispatch for the Western Interconnection

Enlarge RPM hourly dispatch image


Estimating the Value of Improved Distributed Photovoltaic Adoption Forecasts for Utility Resource Planning, NREL Technical Report (2018) 

Navajo Generating Station & Federal Resource Planning. Volume 1: Sectoral, Technical, and Economic Trends, NREL Technical Report (2016) 

Renewable Energy Deployment in Colorado and the West: A Modeling Sensitivity and GIS Analysis, NREL Technical Report (2016) 

Capturing the Impact of Storage and Other Flexible Technologies on Electric System Planning, NREL Technical Report (2016) 

"Considering Renewables in Capacity Expansion Models: Capturing Flexibility with Hourly Dispatch," IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting (2015)

Methodology for Clustering High-Resolution Spatiotemporal Solar Resource Data, NREL Technical Report (2015)

Implications of Model Structure and Detail for Utility Planning: Scenario Case Studies Using the Resource Planning Model, NREL Technical Report (2015)

Resource Planning Model: An Integrated Resource Planning and Dispatch Tool for Regional Electric Systems, NREL Technical Report (2013)