Energy Storage in Long-Term System Models: A Review of Considerations, Best Practices, and Research Needs: Article No. 032001

Wesley Cole, John Bistline, Giovanni Damato, Joseph DeCarolis, Will Frazier, Vikram Linga, Cara Marcy, Chris Namovicz, Kara Podkaminer, Ryan Sims, Manussawee Sukunta, David Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technological change and policy support have heightened expectations for the role of energy storage in power systems, creating a need to enhance representations of energy storage in long-term models to inform decision-making. Energy storage technologies have complex and diverse cost, value, and performance characteristics that make them challenging to model, but there is limited guidance about best practices and research gaps for energy storage analysis. This paper reviews the literature and draws upon our collective experience to provide recommendations to analysts on approaches for representing energy storage in long-term electric sector models, navigating tradeoffs in model development, and identifying research gaps for existing tools and data. The review focuses on national-scale models with technological, temporal, and regional detail given their prevalence in planning and policy, though many insights are transferable to other modeling contexts. It also offers guidance to consumers of model outputs on proper use and interpretation based on model strengths and limitations. In particular, this review demonstrates the importance of capturing how the values of energy storage and other resources change as the system composition changes (e.g. with different levels of storage, renewables deployment, and emissions outcomes). These considerations require model detail like high spatiotemporal resolutions and endogenous investments that global integrated assessment models and price-taker frameworks do not typically resolve. Research gaps include linking tools of different resolutions, developing reduced-form representations of value streams, incorporating hybrid energy storage and renewable systems, and representing longer-duration energy storage technologies.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages22
JournalProgress in Energy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5C00-75624


  • capacity planning
  • energy storage
  • energy systems modeling
  • metamodeling
  • power sector economics
  • renewable integration


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