Electric Power Generation and Distribution

Multi-Model Effort Highlights Progress, Future Needs in Renewable Energy Modeling

09 January 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) hosted two workshops in which four nationally recognized modeling teams identified areas of importance for modeling variable renewable energy (VRE), such as wind and solar. Through this collaboration, the teams identified the areas of importance for modeling VRE, performed experiments to determine key assumptions and compiled a set of recommendations for future research.

Variable Renewable Energy in Long-Term Planning Models: A Multi-Model Perspective, is the culmination of a collaboration among the capacity expansion modeling teams from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NREL. The report shows that improvements made across a diverse group of modeling teams led to more robust representation of VRE technologies.

Among the findings, the NREL and EIA teams showed how improved temporal resolution leads to more appropriate renewable energy capacity and energy value estimations. The EPRI and EPA teams demonstrated how avoiding improper spatial resolution could lead to more substantial system cost estimates. The report also highlights 15 areas where continued research and development is needed for long-term modeling, including methods for how storage and renewable energy might interact at increased levels of penetration for each technology.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. It is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.

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