Scenarios for Benefits Analysis of Energy Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment

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For at least the last decade, evaluation of the benefits of research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RD3) by the U.S. Department of Energy has been conducted using deterministic forecasts that unrealistically presume we can precisely foresee our future 10, 25, or even 50 years hence. This effort tries, in a modest way, to begin a process of recognition that the reality of our energy future is rather one rife with uncertainty. The National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) is used by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE) and Fossil Energy (FE) for their RD3 benefits evaluation. In order to begin scoping out the uncertainty in these deterministic forecasts, EE and FE designed two futures that differ significantly from the basic NEMS forecast. A High Fuel Price Scenario and a Carbon Cap Scenario were envisioned to forecast alternative futures and the associated benefits. Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) implemented these scenarios into its version of NEMS, NEMS-LBNL, in late 2004, and the Energy Information Agency created six scenarios for FE in early 2005. The creation and implementation of the EE-FE scenarios are explained in this report. Both a Carbon Cap Scenario and a High Fuel Price Scenarios were implemented into the NEMS-LBNL. EIA subsequently modeled similar scenarios using NEMS. While the EIA and LBNL implementations were in some ways rather different, their forecasts do not significantly diverge. Compared to the Reference Scenario, the High Fuel Price Scenario reduces energy consumption by 4% in 2025, while in the EIA fuel price scenario (known as Scenario 4) reduction from its corresponding reference scenario (known as Scenario 0) in 2025 is marginal. Nonetheless, the 4% demand reduction does not lead to other cascading effects that would significantly differentiate the two scenarios. The LBNL and EIA carbon scenarios were mostly identical. The only major difference was that LBNL started working with the AEO 2004 NEMS code and EIA was using AEO 2005 NEMS code. Unlike the High Price Scenario the Carbon Cap scenario gives a radically different forecast than the Reference Scenario. NEMS-LBNL proved that it can handle these alternative scenarios. However, results are price inelastic (for both oil and natural gas prices) within the price range evaluated. Perhaps even higher price paths would lead to a distinctly different forecast than the Reference Scenario. On the other hand, the Carbon Cap Scenario behaves more like an alternative future. The future in the Carbon Cap Scenario has higher electricity prices, reduced driving, more renewable capacity, and reduced energy consumption. The next step for this work is to evaluate the EE benefits under each of the three scenarios. Comparing those three sets of predicted benefits will indicate how much uncertainty is inherent within this sort of deterministic forecasting.

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