Evolution of the United States Energy System and Related Emissions under Varying Social and Technological Development Paradigms: Plausible Scenarios for Use in Robust Decision Making.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The energy system is the primary source of air pollution. Thus, evolution of the energy system into the future will affect society's ability to maintain air quality. Anticipating this evolution is difficult because of inherent uncertainty in predicting future energy demand, fuel use, and technology adoption. We apply scenario planning to address this uncertainty, developing four very different visions of the future. Stakeholder engagement suggested that technological progress and social attitudes toward the environment are critical and uncertain factors for determining future emissions. Combining transformative and static assumptions about these factors yields a matrix of four scenarios that encompass a wide range of outcomes. We implement these scenarios in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency MARKet ALlocation (MARKAL) model. Results suggest that both shifting attitudes and technology transformation may lead to emission reductions relative to the present, even without additional policies. Emission caps, such as the Cross-State Air-Pollution Rule, are most effective at protecting against future emission increases. An important outcome of this work is the scenario-implementation approach, which uses technology-specific discount rates to encourage scenario-specific technology and fuel choices. End-use energy demands are modified to approximate societal changes. This implementation allows the model to respond to perturbations in manners consistent with each scenario.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brown, KE; Hottle, TA; Bandyopadhyay, R; Babaee, S; Dodder, RS; Kaplan, PO; Lenox, CS; Loughlin, DH

Published Date

  • July 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 52 / 14

Start / End Page

  • 8027 - 8038

PubMed ID

  • 29928794

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7297051

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5851

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0013-936X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/acs.est.8b00575


  • eng