Sense, Predict, Act

Energy R&D Program

Balancing the demands of rising energy needs and sustainability is extremely challenging

As the world’s population grows, demand for energy will increase dramatically. More than a billion people without electricity today will, in the coming decades, be connected to power. Accordingly, energy use is forecast to rise by 53% from 2008 to 2035 – this growth will require an estimated $38 trillion in investment and energy will produce over two-thirds of all greenhouse gases. Accordingly, energy planners and policymakers around the globe are working to develop strategies to meet rising demand and spur economic growth, while managing investment cost constraints, limited fossil-fuel supply, under context of major constraints and tradeoffs in the land-water-food-energy-climate nexus. Balancing these competing goals is extremely challenging. Uncertainty and risk arise from many causes, including inconsistent public policy and regulations, evolving science and technology, economic volatility, changing public sentiment, government and industry investment cycles, and fossil-fuel discoveries, water-energy linkages and increasing frequency and impact of natural disasters. Any one of these factors can turn a successful energy strategy into a major failure. Planners also contend with the unique constraints and requirements of every individual organization, city, state, and nation – as each has its own unique blend of financial, regulatory, resource, infrastructure and social constraints. Long planning horizons and broad geographic focus further compound the complexities. For example, government energy planners must make trade-offs between policies to incentivize construction of renewable generation plants, or energy-efficiency improvements for buildings, or rebates on electric automobiles, or low carbon technology R&D investments. With limited budget and resources, governments cannot address all the opportunities before them. They need to make tradeoffs and decide which will create the most value and least risk.

PSI Approach

PSI’s core research themes in Energy
PSI is developing capabilities and platforms to help planners formulate, simulate and test potential strategies against a model of their energy ecosystem early in the planning process, long before significant capital and effort are deployed. Our focus is to create solutions that provide a first-pass analytic test-bed for planners to scope and compare different energy approaches. We aim to help them speed up and reduce the cost of converging on strategies that will best meet their energy availability, economic, risk and climate goals. Our solutions are not meant to replace detailed energy studies. Rather, we help guide where studies should focus, so that their analytic effort, resources and spending are most effective. PSI’s solutions harness the vast pool of available, but largely siloed, energy data – including in-situ and remote sensors, market pricing, private and government databases. This data is used to model the baseline energy supply and demand ecosystem for a particular location. The impacts of various policy/incentive scenarios as well as renewable/efficiency/purchasing solutions are simulated against the baseline. The results are then ranked considering economics and risk to identify the best approaches. We marry this with innovative collaboration and visualization tools to create a simple, intuitive approach.