SEMINAR: Impacts of High Variable Renewable Energy Futures on Electric-Sector Decision Making
Increasing penetrations of variable renewable energy (VRE) can affect wholesale electricity price patterns and make them meaningfully different from past, traditional price patterns. Many long-lasting decisions for supply- and demand-side electricity infrastructure and programs are based on historical observations or assuming a business-as-usual future with low shares of VRE. Our motivating question is whether certain electric-sector decisions when made based on assumptions reflecting low VRE levels will still achieve their intended objective in a high VRE future. We qualitatively describe how various decisions may change with higher shares of VRE and outline an analytical framework for quantitatively evaluating the impacts of VRE on long-lasting decisions. We then present results from detailed electricity market simulations with capacity expansion and unit commitment models for multiple regions of the U.S. for low and high VRE futures. We find a general decrease in average wholesale electricity prices with more VRE penetration, increased price volatility and frequency of very low-priced hours, and changing diurnal price and marginal carbon emissions patterns. Ancillary service prices rise substantially and peak net-load hours with high capacity value are shifted increasingly into the evening, particularly for high solar futures. This core set of electricity market prices provides a foundation for quantitative evaluations of decisions related to demand-side and supply-side assets in low and high VRE futures.
Scientific Engineering Associate, Electricity Markets and Policy Group
Dr. Joachim (Jo) Seel is a Scientific Engineering Associate at the Electricity Markets and Policy Group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research focuses on solar and wind market developments, the integration of high shares of intermittent and distributed renewable generation into the electricity grid, and associated effects on electricity markets. Joachim Seel holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Energy and Resources and a Master in Public Policy from UC Berkeley. A native of Hamburg, Jo came to the Bay Area from the international Jacobs University in Germany, where he studied environmental policies and international relations.