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The Shell Center for Sustainability's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities' living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life.



Optimizing The Net Economic and Societal Benefits


Daniel Cohan, Ph.D., Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Rice University
Leonardo Duenas-Osorio, Ph.D., Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Rice University
Peter Hartley, Ph.D., Department of Economics, Rice University
Kenneth Medlock, Ph.D., Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

 Daniel Cohan 
Dr. Daniel Cohan 
 Duenas Osorio 5_11 
Dr. Leonardo Duenas Osorio 
 Peter Hartley
Dr. Peter Hartley 
 Kenneth Medlock
Dr. Kenneth Medlock 
Project Background

A projected 40% increase in electricity consumption by 2030, coupled with the retirement of many older power plants, could result in the construction of new power generation facilities equivalent to almost half of current capacity nationwide. The electric transmission grid, already strained in some places by current loads, will require corresponding levels of construction to accommodate this growth while maintaining reliability and efficiency. The construction of new generation and transmission capacity involves large capital investment that requires integrated assessment of their impacts on affordable, reliable, and sustainable electricity production.

At a time when many U.S. cities are struggling to meet federal air quality standards and climate change is attracting heightened concern, the need for new power plants can be problematic. These new power plants represent new sources of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. New plants also provide an opportunity to adopt cleaner and more efficient technologies. The siting, design, and environmental performance of new power plants, along with actions to improve existing plants or curb demand growth, will critically affect environmental sustainability, energy reliability, and economic growth.

Specific growth in power systems has rarely been analyzed along with the economic, environmental and reliability aspects of power systems. This research will develop and integrate state-of-the-science models of energy markets, power flow, and air quality to evaluate the affordability, reliability, and environmental impacts of alternative scenarios for satisfying electricity demand and optimizing the net economic and societal benefits of power systems. We will use Texas as a test case since it is predicted to experience more growth in consumption and generating capacity than any other state in the next 20 years.

Research objectives will:

1. Develop models describing electricity supply and demand in a deregulated market, the functioning and reliability of transmission systems, and power plant impacts on air quality, climate, and human health.

2. Design data sharing structures and methodologies for coupling three computational models.

3. Apply the linked models to examine questions of significance to industry stakeholders, policy makers, and scientists.

News: Click here.

Final Report: Click here. 


Potential emissions reductions from grandfathered coal power plants in the United States, Daniel S. Cohan, Catherine Douglass. 

Performance assessment of topologically diverse power systems subjected to hurrican events, James Winkler, Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio, Robert Stein, Devika Subramanian.

Interface Network Models for Complex Urban Infrastructure Systems, James Winkler, Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio, A.M.ASCE, Robert Stein, Devika Subramanian.

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