U.S. Regional Energy Demand Forecasts Using NEMS and GIS

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The National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) is a multi-sector, integrated model of the U.S. energy system put out by the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration. NEMS is used to produce the annual 20-year forecast of U.S. energy use aggregated to the nine region census division level. The research objective was to disaggregate this regional energy forecast to the county level for select forecast years, for use in a more detailed and accurate regional analysis of energy usage across the U.S. The process of disaggregation using a geographic information system (GIS) was researched and a model was created utilizing available population forecasts and climate zone data. The model's primary purpose was to generate an energy demand forecast with greater spatial resolution than what is currently produced by NEMS, and to produce a flexible model that can be used repeatedly as an add-on to NEMS in which detailed analysis can be executed exogenously with results fed back into the NEMS data flow. The methods developed were then applied to the study data to obtain residential and commercial electricity demand forecasts. The model was subjected to comparative and statistical testing to assess predictive accuracy. Forecasts using this model were robust and accurate in slow-growing, temperate regions such as the Midwest and Mountain regions. Interestingly, however, the model performed with less accuracy in the Pacific and Northwest regions of the country where population growth was more active. In the future more refined methods will be necessary to improve the accuracy of these forecasts. The disaggregation method was written into a flexible tool within the ArcGIS environment which enables the user to output the results in five year intervals over the period 2000-2025. In addition, the outputs of this tool were used to develop a time-series simulation showing the temporal changes in electricity forecasts in terms of absolute, per capita, and density of demand.

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