Below is the text version for the video, Technical Assistance: Capacity Expansion. In this video, Robert Spencer of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) discusses capacity expansion and techno-economic analysis in power systems as part of the technical assistance offered through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE's) Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP).

Text Version

[Music plays, title screen shows “Energy Transitions Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy: Partnership Project, Technical Assistance”]

[Man in a home office speaking]

Hi, I'm Robert Spencer, and I am a data and software engineer within the Strategic Energy Analysis Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

One focus area within the ETIPP is assistance in capacity expansion and techno-economic analysis. This requires an understanding of the current state of the power system and a deeper understanding about how it can and should evolve over time.

[Video shows a demo of NREL’s online tool, Engage]

Capacity expansion, for instance, asks the question of how to strategically invest in the power system, by optimizing over the resources, constraints, costs, and demand of that system, distributed over space and time, and subject to a highly uncertain future.

[Video returns to man in a home office speaking]

So typically, the current state of invested generation and transmission assets on a given system have been driven by the objective of minimizing monetary costs. However, many communities are finding that other metrics or objectives should have greater influence, aligned with providing clean and resilient energy to its consumers.

NREL and its modeling teams have long been providing internal analysis for what may typically be highly complex and large-scale systems, delivering high-fidelity, in-depth analysis for those clients.

[Live demo of NREL’s online tool, Standard Scenarios 2020]

But for smaller to medium scale problems, we are also offering assistance in leveraging our open-access tools and data that can empower our end-users in building additional robustness and self-reliance to their long-term planning process. We do this by working with them hand in hand, alongside other stakeholders in their community, to build their own in-house capabilities to gain a deeper, data-driven understanding of their existing power system, the unique challenges that it faces, and the long-term implications of planning decisions that can be made. And this can be accomplished through modeling and/or data visualization.

As an example, NREL has been partnering with the Hawaii State Energy Office. One of HSEO's responsibilities has been in the interfacing between the public and the serving electric utility which officially conducts grid analysis for planning. The State of Hawaii passed an RPS goal requiring 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

[Image of three men standing in front of a large computer screen]

HSEO saw value in quickly accessing and visualizing energy planning information to understand and explain the process, all in order to gather critical input from key stakeholders including state agencies, businesses and nonprofits, to ensure that diverse perspectives and priorities from impacted communities are being considered.

[Video returns to man in a home office speaking]

The broader set of informed stakeholders allows the energy system planning process to include discussion and resolution of challenges related to cost balancing, land use, and social equity.

As a result of this technical exercise, we developed Engage and Cambium, which are free and openly available to address the need for accessible, collaborative, and communicative tools for capacity expansion modeling and visualization. With these tools, we had trained and worked with HSEO to replicate their utility's assessed scenarios so that they can clearly visualize and understand their impacts on the community.

[Image of a hand on a visualization tool]

These visualizations were able to facilitate insightful conversations that allow HSEO to update their prior assumptions and retest the implications of alternative paths.

[Video returns to man in a home office speaking]

Their focus is currently in addressing the uncertainty around electrification of transportation and the tradeoffs around land use in a highly constrained landscape. Using these tools to rapidly screen additional scenarios based on new insights, it allows HSEO to facilitate an informed conversation about the challenges that must be overcome to reach their energy goals. It also allowed them to know which questions they should be asking during each new planning cycle.

[Image of two men standing over a visualization tool with a large computer screen showing various graphs]

Effective, collaborative energy planning requires people of all skill sets and interests to access complex yet digestible energy information. So, this approach could also be useful to your team or community based on the following questions:

[Video returns to man in a home office speaking]

Are you trying to make long-term planning or policy decisions around the future of energy generation and transmission across your power system?

Are those decisions hindered by a lack of data and tools to assess their efficacy and potential implications towards your intended goal?

Do you currently lack the human or financial resources to overcome that barrier of entry?

Our goal here is to empower a broader set of stakeholders, so whatever your unique problem set and objectives are, we would love to work and adapt together. Thank you.

[Music plays, title screen with “Energy Transitions Initiative, U.S. Department of Energy – Partnership Project | Technical Assistance, Office of Strategic Programs| Solar Energy Technologies Office| Water Power Technologies Office | Office of Electricity]