The aim of our research—as part of the Energy Transition Initiative—is to evaluate alternative technology pathways and policy options for decarbonizing energy systems. Our research team is developing a suite of modeling tools to understand the interaction between clean energy sources, energy storage, smart distributed energy systems, the electrification of transportation, and more. From our extensive analysis of the research, which includes energy systems modeling, academic work on energy system transitions, and case studies from around the world, we identify policy measures that support the transition to a clean, efficient and equitable energy system.


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The effects of seemingly nonbinding price floors

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In this paper, we constructed a two-period model to show why the price of storable goods may be determined by a price floor even though the price floor lies strictly below that price.

Evaluating the Regional Economic Impacts of Land Conversions to Solar Energy Production

This paper considers continuity and change in Virginia’s energy regulation atmosphere related to House Bill 206, describes the causes and consequences of insufficient EIAs and implementation lags, and summarizes existing evidence both on land-use changes for photovoltaic production and on feasible EIA mechanisms.

State-Level Planning for Decarbonization

All over the United States, state governments are pursuing decarbonization on their own and in concert with other states. Much of this effort has focused on the electricity sector, where decarbonization will require investment in clean generation and transmission and a bigger focus on demand management.

Decommissioning Utility-Scale Solar Facilities

Utility-scale solar facilities are an important component of electricity generation and decarbonization in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but few guiding documents are available to support localities’ approach to the decommissioning process.

Smoothing the Path to Solar

This report offers case study observations that could be informative in efforts to create a more predictable, efficient, and expedient permitting process for utility-scale solar facility construction in Virginia. From examining the 12 case studies, this report finds two major impediments to solar permitting.

Price-Responsive Allowance Supply in Emissions Markets

Access the article through the University of Chicago Press.

Price-responsive supply can enhance the performance of real-world regulatory environments through an adjustment mechanism that responds instantaneously to new information about abatement costs. 

Achieving Clean Electricity Generation at Least Cost to Ratepayers by 2045

This paper explores potential strategies for achieving least-cost decarbonization by 2045, using Resources for the Future's electricity planning model. The Cooper Center researchers were responsible for reporting the modeling results and evaluating other potentially important elements of a least-cost approach to decarbonizing Virginia’s electricity sector.

Linking fossil fuel sales to emissions reductions

Supporting a net-zero attributable emissions policy would help clear the way for transformation to carbon neutrality.

Food–Energy–Water Implications of Negative Emissions Technologies s in a +1.5 °C Future

Scenarios for meeting ambitious climate targets rely on large-scale deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs), including direct air capture (DAC). However, the tradeoffs between food, water and energy created by deploying different NETs are unclear. 

Emerging Issues in Decentralized Resource Governance

This paper is a review of some current issues in the field of environmental federalism. Environmental spillovers among political jurisdictions are ubiquitous and likely to increase with increasing population and consumption, so the centralization or decentralization of environmental governance is of pressing concern. 

The Role of Direct Air Capture and Negative Emissions Technologies...

We use the Global Change Analysis Model (GCAM) to understand the role of DACCS across all 5 SSPs for the below 2˚C and below 1.5˚C end-of-century warming goals. We assess DACCS deployment relative to other carbon capture methods, and its side effects for global energy, water, land systems. 

Electricity Sales Forecast 2020-2050

We discuss recent trends in Virginia's electricity demand, including the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic. We then forecast how Virginia's electricity demand will change through 2050 and discuss what will drive these changes.

Developing a Smart Grid for Virginia

We explore smart grid applications, including their costs and benefits. We also review Virginia's recent efforts to develop a smarter grid, and provide recommendations to promote smart grid development that will benefit ratepayers and help Virginia achieve its clean energy goals.

Decarbonizing Virginia's Economy: Pathways to 2050

Recent policy initiatives in Virginia reflect an increased urgency in addressing the state’s contribution to global warming. We analyze quantitatively and comprehensively the actions needed to make Virginia's economy carbon neutral by 2050.

The Soft Costs of Distributed Solar: Best Practice Recommendations for Cost Reduction

We review existing soft costs of adopting distributed solar in the united states. Reducing these costs will play a key role in building a carbon-free economy.

Clean Dispatchable Power Sources

We review technologies that can potentially help Virginia cost-effectively reach net zero carbon energy. We summarize how they function and their development path, assess and compare them along multiple criteria, and provide recommendations for how Virginia should move forward.

Clean Energy Legislation

We evaluate existing laws and regulations that will either aid or hinder Virginia in meeting its decarbonization targets. We also assess several clean-energy policy initiatives, including regulatory innovations in Virginia and other states.

Negative Emissions: Deployment Implications

We examine energy, water, and land use tradeoffs from three NETs (afforestation, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, and direct air capture).

Negative Emissions Technologies Modeling

We discuss difficulties of modeling Negative Emissions Technologies to study climate change mitigation strategies, and provide insight into how to better do so.

Price-Responsive Supply in Environmental Markets

We evaluate instrument design and the evolution of environmental pricing in a sequential policy environment. We find a price-responsive supply schedule offers multiple advantages

The Effects of “Non-binding” Price Floors

We theoretically investigate the effects of hard and soft price floors in the stochastic, competitive storage model.

Emission Market Design: California Allowances

We use experiments to examine the effects of California’s greenhouse gas emissions controls, and find that they have the potential to cause higher price variability and market manipulation.

Collars for Stabilizing Allowance Prices

We discuss the effects of price and quantity “collars” on emission allowance experiments with random firm-specific and market-level structural shocks.

Issues in Decentralized Resource Governance

We discuss the importance of environmental federalism, spillovers, and linked socio-ecological systems on decentralized resource governance.