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Identifying Robust Energy Decarbonization Pathways under Climate Uncertainty

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
December 12, 2022

Rapid transition to decarbonized power systems is important to meet net-zero goals and reduce the impact of human induced climate change. In this transition to a decarbonized power system, uncertainty in policy and technology adoption has led to a suite of plausible decarbonization pathways. In all pathways, though, power system operation and reliability will be increasingly driven by the meteorological system. There is large uncertainty in meteorology due to both internal climate variability and uncertain warming projections. There is also considerable epistemological uncertainty in how meteorology and power system fleets interact to cause outages, leading to deep uncertainty of power system operations under the decarbonization pathways. Researchers have identified optimal capacity investment decisions under different decarbonization policies. But, they have not explored the robustness of these future power systems by accounting for the internal variability in the climate system. In this work we use the robust decision making (RDM) framework to understand the robustness of energy transition pathways in the near term (through 2035) using the CESM2 large-ensemble (CESM2-LE). Such large ensemble datasets provide many realizations of future climate, encoding multiple extreme events, suitable for evaluating these pathways in the RDM framework. We obtain different decarbonization pathways for the western interconnection (WECC) from the NREL standard scenarios. These scenarios consist of varying carbon-neutral and carbon-free target dates and electrification levels. For each pair of decarbonization pathway and ensemble member, we will use Monte-Carlo based reliability assessment methods to calculate a time series of yearly loss of load hours (LOLH) and expected unserved energy (EUE). Through this RDM framework we will identify pathways which are robust to a range of climate futures in the near- to mid-term. We will also identify particular climate realizations and meteorological events that cause significant reliability failures across pathways. Our research will help utilities make decarbonization investment decisions that are robust to climate change.

Flavio Lehner
Research Areas
Energy Systems
Publication Type
Conference Proceeding
Full Citation

Sundar, Srihar, Michael Craig, and Flavio Lehner. "Identifying Robust Energy Decarbonization Pathways under Climate Uncertainty." AGU22 (2022). CSS22-51