Electricity - GCAM

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Model Documentation - GCAM

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Model information
Model link
Institution Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Change Research Institute (PNNL, JGCRI), USA, http://www.globalchange.umd.edu.
Solution concept General equilibrium (closed economy)GCAM solves all energy, water, and land markets simultaneously
Solution method Recursive dynamic solution method
Anticipation GCAM is a dynamic recursive model, meaning that decision-makers do not know the future when making a decision today. After it solves each period, the model then uses the resulting state of the world, including the consequences of decisions made in that period - such as resource depletion, capital stock retirements and installations, and changes to the landscape - and then moves to the next time step and performs the same exercise. For long-lived investments, decision-makers may account for future profit streams, but those estimates would be based on current prices. For some parts of the model, economic agents use prior experience to form expectations based on multi-period experiences.

The GCAM electricity sector models the conversion of primary fuels (e.g., coal, gas, oil, bioenergy) to electricity. For most fuels, GCAM includes several different technology options (e.g., pulverized coal, coal IGCC, etc.). Individual technologies compete for market share based on their technological characteristics (conversion efficiency in the production of products from inputs), and cost of inputs and price of outputs. The cost of a technology in any period depends on (1) its exogenously specified non-energy cost, (2) its endogenously calculated fuel cost, and (3) any cost of emissions, as determined by the climate policy. The first term, non-energy cost, represents capital, fixed and variable O&M costs incurred over the lifetime of the equipment (except for fuel or electricity costs). For electricity technologies, GCAM reads in each of these terms and computes the levelized cost of energy within the model. For example, the non-energy cost of coal-fired power plant is calculated as the sum of overnight capital cost (amortized using a capital recovery factor and converted to dollars per unit of energy output by applying a capacity factor), fixed and variable operations and maintenance costs. The second term, fuel or electricity cost, depends on the specified efficiency of the technology, which determines the amount of fuel or electricity required to produce each unit of output, as well as the cost of the fuel or electricity. For details and a schematic showing the electricity nesting structure, see GCAM's section on electricity.