Electric Sector Policy, Technological Change, and U.S. Emissions Reductions Goals: Results from the EMF 32 Model Intercomparison Project
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The Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) 32 study compares a range of coordinated scenarios to explore implications of U.S. climate policy options and technological change on the electric power sector. Harmonized policy scenarios (including mass-based emissions limits and various power-sector-only carbon tax trajectories) across 16 models provide comparative assessments of potential impacts on electric sector investment and generation outcomes, emissions reductions, and economic implications. This paper compares results across these policy alternatives, including a variety of technological and natural gas price assumptions, and summarizes robust findings and areas of disagreement across participating models. Under a wide range of policy, technology, and market assumptions, model results suggest that future coal generation will decline relative to current levels while generation from natural gas, wind, and solar will increase, though the pace and extent of these changes vary by policy scenario, technological assumptions, region, and model. Climate policies can amplify trends already under way and make them less susceptible to future market changes. The model results provide useful insights to a range of stakeholders, but future research focused on intersectoral linkages in emission reductions (e.g., the role of electrification), effects of energy storage, and better coverage of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) can improve insights even further.