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Project Description

The Net-Zero America study provides unprecedented sectoral, spatial, and temporal detail describing five diverse pathways for the United States to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Like nearly all energy-system transition modeling work, the NZA study adopted constrained cost-minimization as its underlying principle. The optimization model also has perfect foresight and allows seamless coupling between sectors.  These are not characteristics of the decision environment for stakeholders participating in the transition, and in this respect the modeled pathways are unrealistically idealized.  We will develop methods that allow modeling various types of uncertainty in energy systems, quantifying risk, and identifying risk-optimized net-zero emission energy-system pathways.  To account for risk, we will develop a stochastic programming model, incorporating uncertainties related to technology change and societal acceptance. The latter we will parameterize using results from dynamical systems and game-theoretical methods. We will also engage with researchers developing integrated assessment models (IAM), which continue to be highly influential in the setting of decarbonization policy but do not capture many energy-system transition execution challenges. In particular, we will explore integrating Rapid Switch principles into IAMs to enable the identification of risk-optimized IAM scenarios. We will share transition modeling tools with colleagues worldwide to encourage analogous studies elsewhere.


Christos Maravelias, Molly McDonald, Chris Greig, Eric Larson, Elke Weber, Simon Levin, Alexandre Koberle, Ajay Gambhir.