Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
August 2017

Modeling Energy Efficiency as a Supply Resource

Modeling Energy Efficiency as a Supply Resource

Energy efficiency may be an inexpensive way to meet future demand and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet little work has been attempted to estimate annual energy efficiency supply functions for electricity planning. The main advantage of using a supply function is that energy efficiency adoption can change as demand changes. Models such as Duke University’s Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model (DIEM) have had to rely on simplistic or fixed estimates of future energy efficiency from the literature rather than on estimates from energy efficiency supply curves. This paper attempts to develop a realistic energy efficiency supply curve and to improve on the current energy efficiency modeling. It suggests an alternative approach based on saved-energy cost data from program administrators and explains the methodologies employed to create the supply curve. It illustrates this approach with results from DIEM for various electricity demand scenarios. The analysis suggests that an additional 5%–9% of energy efficiency is deployed for every 10% increase in the cost of electricity. Therefore, DIEM “invested” in energy efficiency up to an inelastic point on the energy efficiency supply curve. By contrast, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s energy efficiency approach assumes that realized energy efficiency is fixed, and has no elasticity, regardless of changes to marginal costs or constraints that affect emissions or economics.

A revised version of this paper was subsequently published in the journal Energy Efficiency.