Analysis of Modeling Assumptions used in Production Cost Models for Renewable Integration Studies

Brady Cowiestoll, Gregory Brinkman, Aaron Townsend, Aaron Bloom

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Renewable energy integration studies have been published for many different regions exploring the question of how higher penetration of renewable energy will impact the electric grid. These studies each make assumptions about the systems they are analyzing; however the effect of many of these assumptions has not been yet been examined and published. In this paper we analyze the impact of modeling assumptions in renewable integration studies, including the optimization method used (linear or mixed-integer programming) and the temporal resolution of the dispatch stage (hourly or sub-hourly). We analyze each of these assumptions on a large and a small system and determine the impact of each assumption on key metrics including the total production cost, curtailment of renewables, CO2 emissions, and generator starts and ramps. Additionally, we identified the impact on these metrics if a four-hour ahead commitment step is included before the dispatch step and the impact of retiring generators to reduce the degree to which the system is overbuilt. We find that the largest effect of these assumptions is at the unit level on starts and ramps, particularly for the temporal resolution, and saw a smaller impact at the aggregate level on system costs and emissions. For each fossil fuel generator type we measured the average capacity started, average run-time per start, and average number of ramps. Linear programming results saw up to a 20% difference in number of starts and average run time of traditional generators, and up to a 4% difference in the number of ramps, when compared to mixed-integer programming. Utilizing hourly dispatch instead of sub-hourly dispatch saw no difference in coal or gas CC units for either start metric, while gas CT units had a 5% increase in the number of starts and 2% increase in the average on-time per start. The number of ramps decreased up to 44%. The smallest effect seen was on the CO2 emissions and total production cost, with a 0.8% and 0.9% reduction respectively when using linear programming compared to mixed-integer programming and 0.07% and 0.6% reduction, respectively, in the hourly dispatch compared to sub-hourly dispatch.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages49
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-65383


  • integration studies
  • modeling assumptions
  • optimization methods
  • production cost modeling
  • renewable energy (RE)


Dive into the research topics of 'Analysis of Modeling Assumptions used in Production Cost Models for Renewable Integration Studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this