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Evaluating DOE's Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) for Renewable Wind and Solar Energy Production

Presentation Date
Monday, January 29, 2024 at 11:30am - Monday, January 29, 2024 at 11:45am
The Baltimore Convention Center - 347/348



To mitigate the most severe impacts of climate change, the United States is transitioning toward a low-carbon and electricity-dominated energy supply with an increased reliance on renewable wind and solar resources. According to a recent report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL;, share of clean electricity could increase from 41% in 2022 to a range of 71% to 90% of total generation by 2030. This projected increase would be primarily driven by wind and solar which could account for 40% to 62% of total generation by 2030. Energy production from wind and solar is impacted by both short-term weather variability and long-term impacts from a changing climate. To better understand the close interplay between weather, climate, and renewable energy production, we couple an earth system model to an energy production model.

E3SM (Energy Exascale Earth System Model) is the US Department of Energy (DOE) fully coupled global earth system model for climate applications. Here, we focus on version 2 (E3SMv2) in its North America regionally refined model (NARRM) configuration. The atmosphere component grid spacing is 25 km over North America and 100 km elsewhere. The atmosphere is free running without the need for nudging to reanalysis products. E3SM can be configured with fully interactive ocean and sea-ice components, but for this application we force it with observed sea-surface temperature (SST) and sea-ice concentration boundary conditions to facilitate comparisons with present-day climate observations and to avoid confounding errors from SST biases. The land component is fully interactive with the atmosphere.

E3SMv2-NARRM is coupled off-line to NERL’s PySAM System Advisor Model to generate hourly renewable energy production estimates for wind farms and utility-scale solar plants. We select representative sites for wind and solar generation throughout the contiguous United States and compare E3SM production estimates with actual monthly production data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). We analyze strengths and weaknesses of E3SM production estimates both in terms of regional biases and seasonal fidelity. We also comment on the potential downstream impacts of climate model performance on long-term energy infrastructure (e.g., capacity expansion) planning.

This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344.

15th Conference on Weather, Water, Climate, and the New Energy Economy
Funding Program Area(s)