Scenarios for Future Energy Systems

Jill Engel-Cox

Research output: NRELPresentation


Energy systems in the U.S. and globally have continuously changed and expanded over the past 200 years, from animal and biomass based energy to electricity and petroleum for heat, light, transportation, and industries of all kinds. The most recent two decades have experienced a significant increase in the use of natural gas, solar, and wind energy, as well as energy efficiency, due to both technology breakthroughs and public policy. With history as a guide, we can expect on-going transformation of our energy system in future decades, including increased electrification and advanced energy technologies, ideally helping meet societal goals of reducing pollution, improving quality of human life, and preserving ecosystems. Scenario modeling is an important tool for planning energy system transformations toward specific goals - such as net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, 100% renewable energy, or energy security - particularly when there are multiple options, conflicting objectives, and significant unknowns about a path forward. This presentation will review the history of energy transitions and the future policy and societal objectives on energy. Then it will summarize multiple scenario studies of future energy systems, with a focus on "100% studies" and the challenges to meeting those objectives. It will also outline of a few of the technologies being researched now that could advance the ongoing energy transition.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages45
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the Texas A&M Energy Institute Lecture Series, 5 April 2023, College Station, Texas

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A50-85725


  • energy system
  • energy transition
  • scenario modeling


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