The Demand-Side Resource Opportunity for Deep Grid Decarbonization

Eric O'Shaughnessy, Monisha Shah, David Parra, Kristen Ardani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus Citations


Technological innovations are creating a larger role for demand-side resources in electric grids. The rise of demand-side resources is occurring alongside the efforts to decarbonize grids. The confluence of these two trends has motivated research on the role of demand-side resources in grid decarbonization. Here, we synthesize the demand-side resource literature to develop a coherent and realistic vision for that role. We find that demand-side resources can supplement supply-side approaches to decarbonize grids more quickly and cost effectively. The role of demand-side resources is secondary to that of supply-side resources, and a critical analysis of tradeoffs is required whenever demand-side solutions substitute for supply-side solutions. Nonetheless, our review suggests that demand-side solutions can play a meaningful role, providing around 10%–30% of the resources required for deep decarbonization in domains such as energy, peak capacity, and deployed solar capacity. However, demand-side resources remain underutilized due to several solvable barriers. The urgency imposed by climate change requires that these barriers be addressed to fully realize the demand-side resource opportunity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)972-983
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-83085


  • decarbonization
  • demand-side resources
  • distributed solutions
  • grid services


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