Modeling Large-Scale Energy Systems

Complex energy systems are an integral part of modern society. They allow us to have the lifestyle and comforts we expect including clean water, abundant food, mobility, telecommunication, lighting, etc. The Webber Energy Group analyzes, models, and optimizes complex energy systems—such as electricity, hydrogen, fuels, and their interactions—to assess trends and investigate novel pathways and combinations that allow for increased resource efficiency and societal benefit. 

As the frequency of extreme weather events increases, understanding impacts and how to build and ensure resilience in our energy system for the weather of the future is a key priority. Particularly in Texas, with its islanded grid, studying feasible and economic options to improve resilience, minimize outages, and reduce emissions is a primary research topic in the group.

Electrifying end-uses where possible while reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation is a key pillar of reaching decarbonization goals. Our work informs potential demand side changes that could result from electrification while also assessing the supply side requirements to reduce emissions from the electricity system. 

The electricity system is just one facet of the broader energy economy and understanding how to reduce emissions while maintaining reliability of energy is a key research question. Expanded use of new technologies like clean hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and direct air capture, represent opportunities to reduce economy wide emissions but have related energy and infrastructure requirements. Our large-scale energy system modeling research explores these complexities and tradeoffs. 

Ongoing and recent projects include:

  • Large-scale spatiotemporal grid modeling and optimization using Python, Julia, GenX, SWITCH, etc.
  • Physics-based building energy end use simulation and modeling using BEOPT, ResStock, ComStock, OpenStudio, EnergyPlus, etc.
  • Economic power flow analysis of distributed energy storage systems using ReOpt
  • Economy-wide modeling for decarbonizing Texas
  • Assessment of the economic success potential of novel electricity sources, such as geothermal and hydrogen-based turbines
  • Spatial deployment of hydrogen infrastructure for future use with the Hydrogen Optimization with Deployment of Infrastructure (HOwDI) Model
  • Assessment of potential for hydrogen development utilizing existing resources and infrastructure in Texas
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