ESCA Announcements

The Energy Systems and Climate Analysis (ESCA) Group maintains an email list to communicate new, publicly available research, events, and other activities to the broader public. We send no more than 2-3 updates per quarter. Topics are based on current ESCA research, which covers key drivers of change in the electric sector including, but not limited to, domestic and international environmental and climate policies, technological change both in the supply and demand of electricity, and other market forces. All announcements are also posted on this webpage, from newest to oldest.

Sign up to join the ESCA public mailing list here. If you would like to unsubscribe from the email list, please email eea@epri.com.

Recent Announcements

February 2021 Newsletter and Research Highlights

The ESCA group recently sent out the first installment of its 2021 quarterly newsletter. Download the PDF version of the February 2021 newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com.

Tech Brief – Modeling Clean Energy Standards for the Electric Sector

Meeting a federal 100% Clean Energy Standard (CES) will require and drive transformative change in the electric power sector, even as other decarbonization efforts are underway across the country at regional and state levels and in other sectors. However, the extent to which this change may occur can depend on the specific provisions included (or excluded) in a CES, and ultimately implemented. Using EPRI’s in house energy system modeling framework, the U.S. Regional Economy, Greenhouse Gas, and Energy Model (US-REGEN), this study quantifies differences between approaches to implementing a federal 100% CES by examining changes in modeled generation portfolio choices; other policy compliance choices such as electricity and credit trade and alternative compliance payments; CO2 emissions; and electricity prices across a range of policy design scenarios.

For more information, please contact Nidhi Santen at nsanten@epri.com.

White Paper – Exploring the Impacts of Extreme Events, Natural Gas Fuel, and Other Contingencies on Resources Adequacy

The electric power industry is shifting its generating portfolio towards variable energy resources and natural gas. As these changes are occurring, the industry needs to plan for resource adequacy that will make electric service more resilient to significant disruptions of supply whether they are the result of weather, cyber / physically attacks, fuel constraints or multi-factor events. Across each of these topics the power industry today employs planning methods that tend to understate the probability of supply disruptions affecting multiple units and their impact on consumers and the system itself.

This white paper focuses on planning for resource adequacy given a world in which supply disruptions are correlated and no longer limited to the outage of independent units and may be due to widespread or long duration events with significant economic impacts on consumers.

For more information, please contact Adam Diamant at adiamant@epri.com.

Tech Brief – EPRI responds to Biden Administration and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposals to re-evaluate the social cost of greenhouse gases

ESCA has published a new technical brief — Repairing the Social Cost of Carbon Framework: Immediate and One Year Steps for Scientifically Reliable Estimates and Use.

President Biden recently issued an Executive Order requesting interim social cost of greenhouse gas (SC-GHG) estimates for carbon dioxide (SCC), methane (SCM), and nitrous oxide (SCN) in 30 days, final estimates in a year, and recommendations on appropriate use of estimates in regulations and federal decisions.

SC-GHG estimates are important, but complex to calculate and apply. Detailed analyses over the past few years reveals fundamental technical estimation and use issues that need to be addressed for scientifically reliable SC-GHG estimates, as well as policy analysis climate benefits and net benefits estimates from reducing GHG emissions. EPRI’s new technical brief is designed to inform and assist the new Administration in their efforts to “capture the full costs of greenhouse gas emissions as accurately as possible.”

EPRI also submitted similar comments on the New York State Department of Conservation guidance for estimating the value of reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions in decision-making. This guidance establishes a monetary value for the avoided costs of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide; provides an up-to-date review of approaches used by other governments to place a value on emissions; and identifies future areas of work.

For more information, please contact Steve Rose at srose@epri.com.

Back Pocket Insight – How does a carbon price impact electricity prices?

In 2020, ESCA published the Back Pocket Insight, “Trade-offs in Emissions Reductions with a CO2 Policy”, which demonstrated the impact of different carbon price policies on electrification outcomes and electric and nonelectric sector emissions. A new, companion Back Pocket Insight, “How does a carbon price impact electricity prices?” further explores the impact of carbon prices on fuel prices, including electricity prices, and the mechanisms behind their differentiated responses. Key takeaways from this analysis include:

  • When a carbon price is applied economy-wide, the delivered price of electricity increases, but proportionally less than the delivered price of end-use fossil fuels, creating an incentive for additional electrification.
  • Higher electricity costs from electric sector-only carbon pricing limit additional electrification and CO2 reduction in non-electric sectors.

For more information, please contact Geoff Blanford at gblanford@epri.com.

Report – Economic, System, and Environmental Implications of High Renewables in the Western U.S.

This report examines the impacts of higher renewable portfolio standards (RPS) on electric sector planning in Arizona and the Western United States. The analysis explores the role of renewables in achieving CO2 reductions and the economic, environmental, and power sector investment implications of renewable standards vis-à-vis alternate approaches to reaching equivalent CO2 goals. Using the U.S. Regional Economy, Greenhouse Gas, and Energy (REGEN) model, results compare differences in generation mixes, system costs, and emissions between scenarios with renewable targets from 30–70% by 2030, increasing to 50–90% by 2050.

For more information, please contact John Bistline at jbistline@epri.com.

November 2020 Newsletter and Research Highlights

The ESCA group sent out the fourth installment of its 2020 quarterly newsletter in November 2020. Download the PDF version of the November 2020 newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com.

Forthcoming EPRI Tech Brief – Analyzing Federal 100% Clean Energy Standards: Policy Design Choices and Future Electric Power Sector Outcomes

Electric power sector clean energy standards (CES) have returned to the forefront of federal policymaking considerations, focusing this time on 100% targets. A future nationwide 100% CES is likely to drive substantial change across the sector, but the extent of this change can depend on the specific provisions of a policy, which can vary widely. Differences in timing, stringency, crediting schemes, eligible technologies, and opportunities for non-generation-based emissions reduction, among many other choices, can drive different futures.

Using EPRI's in-house energy system modeling framework, US-REGEN, this study analyzes different national CES policy approaches by quantifying changes in future electric sector outcomes such as generation choices, compliance pathways, electricity prices, and CO2 emissions. Three sets of scenarios investigate potential effects of:

  • A new 100% by 2050 Federal CES, based on major provisions within the 2020 proposed Clean Energy and Innovation Deployment Act;
  • Five key CES policy design choices, including an earlier 100% target, a more stringent emission intensity threshold for awarding credits, restricted credit trading, and more; and
  • Alternative definitions for electricity ‘sales,' with and without considering energy system losses, such as those from electricity delivery and energy storage.

The technical brief is expected to be released in early February. For more information, contact Nidhi Santen, nsanten@epri.com.

Efficient Electrification in US States – Georgia and Alabama

Following the publication of the U.S. National Electrification Assessment, EPRI launched a series of assessments at the state level to evaluate the economic potential for electrification over the next three decades across the buildings, transportation, and industrial sectors. Using the US-REGEN model, EPRI evaluated electrification outcomes across a range of state-specific scenarios that varied different policy market, and technology drivers.

In September 2020, EPRI published the Executive Summary for the Georgia / Alabama state electrification project. The analysis finds that efficient electrification in these states, driven by technology change and consumer choice, particularly in the transportation sector, is a significant trend across a range of scenarios. Additional key insights include:

  • Passenger vehicles and heavy transport drive load growth across scenarios, though the extent of these trends depend on future cost declines.
  • Space heating electrification impacts load shapes more than total load by shifting the electricity system from summer to winter peaking.
  • Electrification will likely be accompanied by falling final energy and CO2 emissions across the economy.
  • Extended operation of the existing nuclear fleet is important to support electrification and lower emissions.

Reports are also available for the completed New York, California, and North Carolina electrification assessments. EPRI's electrification study in Wisconsin was featured in WEC Energy's Climate Report.

ESCA Staff Highlights

ESCA researcher recognized as “Top Innovator of 2020”

ESCA researcher and lead US-REGEN modeler, Geoff Blanford, was recently recognized among Public Utilities Fortnightly's, “Top Innovators of 2020”.

Dr. Blanford was interviewed about his research modeling the economic potential of technologies that can support economy-wide decarbonization and electrification. Specifically, Dr. Blanford is exploring what technologies, such as hydrogen, could be part of a cost-effective transition to low or net-zero emissions by 2050. He is also leading the modeling for EPRI's new Low Carbon Resources Initiative (LCRI) by using integrated economic analysis to understand the role different technologies can play in achieving deep decarbonization goals.

ESCA researchers contribute to upcoming IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

EPRI researchers John Bistline, Delavane Diaz, David McCollum, and Steven Rose are currently participating as co-authors for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, due in 2021-2022. As EPRI's leading research group for climate-related topics, ESCA values the opportunity to engage in international scientific collaboration that defines the boundaries of knowledge and identifies priority research frontiers to advance. Participation in this forum facilitates EPRI input into an influential climate forum and elevates EPRI research and expertise to global and cross-sectoral conversations. EPRI also leverages its participation to inform future research on critical topics such as climate risk, power system resiliency, decarbonization and low-carbon fuels, and electrification.

For more information about ESCA's IPCC participation, please contact any of the researchers above.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

The ESCA group routinely submits publicly available research to peer-reviewed publications. Recent articles include:

COVID-19 recovery funds dwarf clean energy investment needs
Energy storage in long-term system models: A review of considerations, best practices, and research needs

August 2020 Newsletter and Research Highlights

The ESCA group recently sent out the third installment of its 2020 quarterly newsletter. Download the PDF version of the August 2020 newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com.

ESCA Research “At a Glance”

Interested in learning more about the breadth of research within the ESCA Group’s portfolio? Check out our new research overviews that summarize our current focus!

Energy, Environmental, and Climate Policy Analysis
Resource Planning for Electric Power Systems

Tech Brief – Incorporating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response into Electric Company Power System Resource Planning

Electric companies, industry stakeholders, and regulators are placing increasing emphasis on accurately representing distributed energy resources (DER) in electric company long-term resource planning efforts. This study quantitatively demonstrates the impact of a variety of approaches to representing energy efficiency (EE) and demand response (DR) in electric company resource planning modeling and analysis. Resource planners can use the results and insights developed to assist them in selecting EE and DR modeling approaches for their own resource planning.

The Value of Carbon Dioxide Removal

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies represent a potentially potent, and possibly essential, strategy for helping manage future climate change and the possibility of rapid industry and company level decarbonization. This research explores and develops insights regarding the potential value of CDR technologies – to climate management, the electric power industry, and companies – and identifies additional research opportunities. For more information on this topic, please contact Steve Rose (srose@epri.com).

Review of 1.5°C and Other New Global Emissions Scenarios: Insights for Company and Financial Climate Low-Carbon Transition Risk Assessment and Greenhouse Gas Goal Setting

In May 2020, EPRI hosted a public launch event for a new report that provides insights for companies (electric and non-electric) on low-carbon transition risk assessment, scenario analysis, and greenhouse gas goal setting.

There is increasing interest in analyzing company and financial climate-related risk and/or setting greenhouse gas (GHG) goals, with third-party organizations offering recommendations and methodologies. This research updates EPRI’s 2018 study and assesses 1.5°C and other newer global GHG emissions scenarios and derives new insights as well as validates previous insights.

Among other things, the study finds that caution is merited regarding the use of 1.5°C pathways in risk assessment or goal setting, and that it is important to consider pathway attainability, uncertainties, and global scenario issues that make them problematic as benchmarks. By validating previous technical observations, we are assured that EPRI’s insights and guidance are robust and a reliable basis for developing company methodologies, and evaluating third-party methodologies, now and into the future. For more information about this study and related research, please contact Steve Rose (srose@epri.com).

Peer-Reviewed Publications

The ESCA group routinely submits publicly available research to peer-reviewed publications. Recent articles include:

Electric sector impacts of renewable policy coordination: A multi-model study of the North American Energy System
Parameterizing open-source energy models: Statistical learning to estimate unknown power plant attributes

June 2020 Newsletter and Research Highlights

The ESCA group recently sent out the fifth installment of its public newsletter. Download the PDF version of the June 2020 Newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com.

Encouraging STEM Careers

During times like these, many of us have spent more time with family and some have become instant teachers. While teaching children at home can be challenging, science experiments and other projects have helped keep kids engaged. Learn the story of EPRI Scientist and ESCA researcher, Dr. Nidhi Santen, and find out how she is encouraging children from all backgrounds to get involved in science.

Dr. Santen has always used science as a tool to protect nature and says there is room in science for all types of skill sets. As a way to break barriers & stereotypes in STE(A)M, she has helped create “I am a Scientist” to encourage young students from all over the world.

Learn more about the campaign here.

Efficient Electrification in U.S. States

Following the publication of the U.S. National Electrification Assessment EPRI launched, a series of assessments at the state level to evaluate the economic potential for electrification over the next three decades across the buildings, transportation, and industrial sectors. Using EPRI’s US REGEN model, EPRI evaluated electrification outcomes across a range of state specific scenarios that varied different policy, market, and technology drivers.

Back Pocket Insight — Minnesota High Renewables Standards

Using EPRI’s US-REGEN model, this study explores the implications of several future policy scenarios for reducing CO2 emissions in Minnesota’s electric sector. The scenarios are designed to represent a series of increasingly stringent clean energy standard (CES) policies that progress toward meeting 100% of Minnesota’s electric load by 2050 from carbon free generation resources. Key insights from the analysis include:

  • Minnesota can repower and expand in-state wind,expand solar, and extend other existing zero CO2 generation operations to cost effectively meet stringent CES policies.
  • Achieving a 100% CES by 2050 in the presence of strict in state physical or policy induced technology constraints could be very costly.
  • Battery storage can help Minnesota most cost effectively comply with a 2050 CES but does not fully displace fossil resources in the scenarios studied.
ESCA Recent Publications

Bistline, J. Estimating Power Sector Leakage Risks and Provincial Impacts of Canadian Carbon Pricing
Bistline, J. and Young, D. Emissions Impacts of Future Batters Storage Deployment on Regional Power Systems

December 2019 Newsletter and Research Highlights

The ESCA group recently sent out the fifth installment of its public newsletter. Download the PDF version of the December 2019 newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com

Back Pocket Insight: Impacts of Recent State Renewable Policies in the U.S.

In the year prior to November 1, 2019, several state-level clean electricity policies were promulgated aimed at reducing electric sector CO2 emissions. Updates to renewable portfolio standards, clean energy standards, and offshore wind mandates, along with federal incentives including the production and investment tax credits, are creating a complex, interrelated policy environment. Using the US-REGEN model, EPRI’s Energy Systems and Climate Analysis Group analyzed the impacts of recent state policies on electric sector CO2 emissions and costs, including sensitivities to lower wind costs and higher natural gas prices.

The EPRI ESCA analysis finds that these recent state policies do increase renewable generation between 2015-2050, but could also cause up to 13GW of existing nuclear to retire earlier than otherwise expected, resulting in little change in net CO2 emissions while adding 0.6%-0.9% to NPV electric sector costs in the same timeframe. For more information about this analysis, please contact David Young at dyoung@epri.com.

Peer-Reviewed Publication – “Economic drivers of wind and solar penetration in the U.S.”

In November 2019, ESCA researchers John Bistline and David Young published an article entitled, “Economic drivers of wind and solar penetration in the U.S.” in the journal, Environmental Research Letters. Using analysis from the US-REGEN model, this article offers insights into which technological and market drivers contribute to economic renewable penetration, and into the range of possible renewables shares in the future U.S. generation mix.

Key takeaways include:

  • Future wind and solar cost declines and CO2 emissions policy are the most important drivers for new renewable capacity over other generation options.
  • Very cheap energy storage does not enable 100% wind and solar generation, but it does help lower system costs in the electric sector.
  • Unlimited, free inter-regional transmission does not enable 100% wind and solar generation, with or without cheap storage.
  • Even in the most extreme scenarios, 100% wind and solar generation is never the least-cost solution to meeting load in the U.S. as decreasing value at higher deployment eventually outpaces cost reductions.
  • The economics of new wind and solar are a complex function of many factors, so ultimate market diffusion is uncertain and requires detailed analysis to evaluate.
EEA participation in INFORMS

EEA staff are recognized experts in the scientific research community. As such, they regularly participate in scientific conferences such as INFORMS. Program 201 has had a long history of expert participation that has had substantial direct and indirect benefits for EPRI, its members, and the public. In October 2019, three ESCA researchers presented at the 2019 INFORMS conference in Seattle, Washington.

David Young presented on capturing the value of battery storage in generation capacity expansion models through scenario analysis using US-REGEN. Delavane Diaz presented on US-REGEN modeling efforts related to regional and local characteristics related to evaluating the potential role of electric technologies to meet energy needs and the resultant impacts on energy system and environmental outcomes.

Finally, Nils Johnson presented an analysis of the load implications of large-scale electric vehicle deployment and the potential impacts of vehicle charging on the US electricity supply system through 2050. For more information about EPRI’s participation, please reach out to David Young (dyoung@epri.com), Delavane Diaz (ddiaz@epri.com), or Nils Johnson (njohnson@epri.com).

September 2019 Newsletter and Research Highlights

The ESCA group recently sent out the third installment of its public newsletter. Download the PDF version of the September 2019 newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com

Back Pocket Insight: A Primer on Wind and Solar Value Deflation

This EPRI brief investigates how the economic value of additional wind and solar capacity decreases as their penetration rises. Key takeaways include:

  • Value deflation is driven not only by the weather-dependent variability of wind and solar but also by the lower revenues earned for their highest-output hours and their low output during high-priced hours.
  • Studies of deep decarbonization do not find that single technology pathways (e.g. 100% renewables) to be least cost, in part due to value deflation.
  • Metrics like the levelized cost of electricity neglect decreasing value and increasing system costs.
  • Despite these effects, wind and solar deployment will increase moving forward, but how much varies by region and how uncertainties (e.g. cost, policy) unfold.
EEA participation in IPCC author workshop

EEA staff are internationally-recognized experts in the scientific research community. As such, they regularly participate on scientific panels, such as the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Integrated Assessment Modeling Consortium (IAMC). Program 201 has had a long history over decades of international expert participation that has had substantial direct and indirect benefits for EPRI, its members, and the public.

EPRI participation elevates EPRI’s and the staff’s scientific reputation and credibility, provides an impactful forum for sharing EPRI research methods and insights, and enhances EPRI staff expertise through engagement with other experts, helping set scientific research agendas. In July 2019, two ESCA staff, Steve Rose and Delavane Diaz, attended the Working Group II Lead Author Meetings for the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) in Kathmandu, Nepal. Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change and options for adapting to it. Specifically, Rose and Diaz are contributing to chapters on climate resilient development pathways. The Working Group report is expected to be released in 2021. For more information about EPRI’s participation, please reach out to Steve Rose (srose@epri.com) or Delavane Diaz (ddiaz@epri.com).

EEA Newsletter and Research Highlights (June 2019)

The ESCA group recently sent out the third installment of its public newsletter. Download the PDF version of the June 2019 newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com

Back Pocket Insight: Impact of Battery Storage on the Electric Sector Mix

Our brief investigates the potential impacts of low-cost battery storage on electric sector generation and investment changes, using the US-REGEN model. The analysis shows how battery storage can help (but not solve) the misalignment between wind and solar profiles and load shapes. Battery deployment may be extensive but changes the backup for renewables more than total wind and solar penetration. Energy storage can lower system costs and curtailments of wind and solar in some grids, especially if trends in cost declines for lithium-ion batteries continue. However, the impacts of batteries and other energy storage technologies can vary by region, assumptions about the future, and company-specific considerations.

Insights into Low CO2 Targets for Wisconsin

As part of its recently released Climate Report, WEC Energy Group collaborated with EPRI to assess the risks and opportunities associated with transitioning to a low-carbon economy. An analysis using EPRI’s US-REGEN model evaluated multiple pathways for reducing emissions in the electric sector and other key sectors of the economy, including transportation, industry, and buildings. The results improve understanding of how Wisconsin’s carbon profile could evolve under a wide range of assumptions around greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, natural gas and other fuel prices, technology availability and costs, and other variables.

EPRI’s modeling highlights the potential role for electricity to facilitate GHG reduction by decarbonizing the electric power system and electrifying end uses in transportation, buildings and industry. The exact blend of electric sector investments – to minimize overall system costs and maintain reliability – will depend on a range of technical, public policy and economic factors. Results from this analysis can be used to inform decision-making under future uncertainty.

EEA Research Summaries

The ESCA group recently updated its renewables research summary and published a new electricity storage research summary. The Renewables Research and Electricity Storage Research Summaries provide a list of all ESCA research related to renewable generation and the economics of electricity storage technologies, including works in progress. Web links are included where available. Publications marked with an * are available to the public free of charge or are published in academic journals. Other publications are available to EPRI member companies, as indicated by the program number in brackets preceding the publication. The research summaries are organized by topic and by date and are updated several times a year.

EEA Recent Publications (June 2019)
The ESCA group routinely submits publications to peer-reviewed journals and publishes research that is available to the public. A list of our recent publications includes:
EEA Newsletter and Research Highlights (March 2019)

The ESCA group recently sent out the second installment of its public newsletter. Download the PDF version of the March 2019 Newsletter. If you would like to sign up for the ESCA public mailing list, please email eea@epri.com.

EEA Recent Publications (March 2019)

The ESCA groups routinely submits publications to peer-reviewed journals and publishes research that is available to the public. A list of our recent publications include:

Technical Brief: Minnesota High Renewable Standard

Cost Effectively Achieving Carbon Goals: Renewable Standards vs. Technology: Neutral Policies – A scenario-based analysis of electric sector impacts through 2050

EEA’s recently published Technical Brief highlights research results related to high renewables standards in Minnesota. This analysis investigates and compares the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy standards and technology-neutral policies for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from Minnesota’s electric power sector between 2015 and 2050. Using EPRI’s in-house electric sector capacity expansion and dispatch model, US-REGEN, the analysis quantifies the cost-differences between the policy approaches, and examines the key drivers of those differences, including (1) how generation capacity and transmission capacity investments in the state and across the region are expected to change over time; (2) the flow of electricity and renewable energy certificates (RECs) in-and-out of Minnesota; and (3) the revenues generated by in-state electric sector resources.

A two-page “Back Pocket Insight” that succinctly summarizes the research results is also available in addition to the longer technical brief.

Integrated Energy Network Planning (IEN-P): Case Studies

In July 2018, EPRI published a white paper identifying 10 complex, large-scale power system planning challenges that electric power system planners and regulators are beginning to confront today, and which are expected to become more pressing and widespread in the future.

In February 2019, EPRI published the first of a two-volume set of case studies that highlight how different electric companies in the United States have started to address the IEN-P challenges the second volume will be published in late 2019.

New ESCA Announcements Page and Public Email List

The Energy Systems and Climate Analysis (ESCA) Group has recently set up an email list open to any interested parties to facilitate greater communication between the ESCA Group and external stakeholders regarding new, publicly available research, events, and other activities. This outreach resource will help our group connect with and circulate our research among a broader network of interested individuals. We plan to send periodic (no more than 2-3 per quarter) updates that feature publicly available ESCA research, upcoming events, and news from our group.

The new email list is paired with an 'EEA Announcements' webpage that contains a list of past announcements along with a link to sign up for the ESCA public email list at the top of the page. We hope that this webpage and our public email list will provide meaningful opportunities for engagement with the broader public and a channel through which we can share ESCA perspectives on energy, climate, and economic issues of importance to the electric power sector.