Integrated Assessment of Energy and the Environment
- Develop and apply integrated assessment models for understanding the coupled interactions between human activities and the global climate system.
- Research the effects of technology change and economic policies on climate change.
- Develop tools for identifying the vulnerabilities of social systems to environmental change and for reducing the effects of these vulnerabilities.
- Conduct applied research on methods for improving energy efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of industrial activities in developing countries.
Integrated assessment is an analysis methodology that combines economic modeling with physical and ecological system models to enable the user to explore how human activities affect and are affected by the environment.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been at the forefront of global energy/economic modeling for nearly two decades. PNNL's models were the primary analytical tools for the U.S.'s analysis of the 1992 UN Framework Convention as well as the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Our modeling and analysis of carbon dioxide concentration stabilization pathways, pointing to the importance of technology in addressing climate change, has helped set the agenda for the U.S.'s response to the climate change problem. Several leading international energy companies have also used our models and analysis for their own strategic planning.
The PNNL models, designed for policy-relevant research, include a comprehensive representation of energy production and consumption in an economically consistent global framework with regional detail.
Given our focus on energy systems, our models contain realistic, physically based, representations of energy production systems. Electricity production, for example, is modeled at the technology level (e.g., oil-fired, coal-fired, nuclear, solar PV, etc.). We also include an agriculture and land-use model that calculates the potential supply of commercial biomass fuels and the tradeoff between production of biomass and other land uses. Our research is designed to answer specific questions about economic impacts, new markets, and the value of new technologies to help inform a well balanced dialogue on how best to address climate change. Our attention to technological detail and our extensive experience in analyzing energy policies and markets distinguishes our work from other programs.