Integrating Cambium Marginal Costs into Electric Sector Decisions: Opportunities to Integrate Cambium Marginal Cost Data into Berkeley Lab Analysis and Technical Assistance

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NREL’s Cambium tool generates forward-looking simulations of marginal wholesale electricity costs associated with NREL’s Standard Scenarios. The scenarios include growing shares of variable renewable energy (VRE, i.e. wind and solar), among other power sector assumptions, between 2018 and 2050. The tool’s primary output—hourly costs at more than 130 balancing areas—could serve as public and transparent data source that supports electric-sector decision-making processes across the U.S.

Berkeley Lab conducts a large range of analyses that use historical and forward-looking wholesale electricity prices to inform electric-sector decisions. In this report, Berkeley Lab uses its expertise to evaluate the Cambium cost data. We compare Cambium data with historical wholesale prices for the year 2018 and other modeled prices for the year 2030. We then present eight case studies in which Berkeley Lab researchers use Cambium data to replicate previous analyses based on other price datasets. We describe where primary findings and underlying key price dynamics align or differ, and highlight possible novel insights from the Cambium data. Finally, we qualitatively evaluate the suitability of Cambium costs in ten additional Berkeley Lab studies, though a direct comparison with alternative price data was not feasible at this time. The goal is to inform how electric-sector decision-makers and DOE program offices may be able to use this cohesive dataset, and to highlight what improvements to Cambium may make it even more useful.

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Click here to view a webinar discussing this research, recorded on November 30, 2021. Pieter Gagnon (NREL) provides an overview of the Cambium tool and summarizes the recent updates to the tool. Berkeley National Lab researchers present an evaluation of the Cambium cost data, building on their analytical expertise of using historical and forward-looking wholesale electricity prices to inform electric-sector decisions. 


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