The annual Standard Scenarios Report—produced by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)—provides a picture each year of where the U.S. electricity sector is heading. The report showcases a wide range of possible future scenarios, highlighting potential new clean energy capacity, the associated CO2 reduction outcomes, and how much it might cost.
Why It’s Important
Standard Scenarios helps people make decisions about the future of our power grids. The robust data is open source and available for anyone to use—from utilities and regulators to research institutions and think tanks. For DOE, it serves as the backbone for much of the analysis and research conducted by EERE and our various technology offices.
7 Key Takeaways
Understanding the Findings
All scenarios are modeled under current policies and two national CO2 emissions targets: a moderate goal that reaches 95% net decarbonization by 2050 and a more ambitious goal that reaches 100% net decarbonization by 2035.
Every year, NREL uses its Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) model to create new clean energy scenarios, taking into account the latest projections for technology costs and performance from NREL’s Annual Technology Baseline.
Now in its ninth installment, the 2023 Standard Scenarios Report includes 53 possible futures that are available to view or download from NREL’s Scenario Viewer.
The report includes a scenario called the Mid-case that serves as a baseline or middle-ground scenario reflecting current electric sector policies and what might happen if current trends and conditions continue. Like the previous year’s report, the 2023 Standard Scenarios Report encompasses the clean energy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).