Better Grid Modeling

October 12, 2016

NOTE: Images in this archived article have been removed.

Image Removed

Although it’s clear enough that energy transition is necessary and reasonable, and although we know that transition is mainly happening on the grid at first, there is still much uncertainty about exactly where on the grid different strategies can be tried, how much they can accomplish, and what they’ll cost, relative to the alternatives….not to mention how the rest of the grid will respond as different measures—like storage, demand response, rooftop solar, controlled dispatch, and so on—are implemented. What’s needed to answer all these difficult questions? Better models, including serious math, by serious researchers.

Fortunately, one of those researchers is willing and able to explain several years of her work in grid modeling at NREL and elsewhere. So tune in and put on your thinking caps, because this episode (Geek Rating 10!) is not for the faint of heart.

Geek rating: 10

Guest: Marissa Hummon is a senior energy scientist with Tendril, a provider of customer-facing software to the energy industry, based in Boulder, Colorado. Previously, she spent five years at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the Energy Analysis group. She earned her BA in Physics from Colorado College and her PhD in Applied Physics from Harvard University. Marissa started her career in grid integration of renewables by looking at some of the core problems with modeling the intermittency and variability of renewable technologies. Before joining Tendril she worked on quantifying the value of demand response and storage technologies in wholesale electricity markets. At Tendril she is leading the development of a residential demand response product that balances the home owner’s comfort and the utilities’ production costs.

On Twitter: @Tendril

On the Web: LinkedIn Profile for Marissa Hummon

Recording date: September 13, 2016

Air date: October 5, 2016


Hummon, M., Denholm, P. and Margolis, R., Impact of photovoltaic orientation on its relative economic value in wholesale energy markets. Prog. Photovolt: Res. Appl., 21: 1531–1540. doi:10.1002/pip.2198 (2013)

Denholm, Paul, Jennie Jorgenson, Thomas Jenkin, Marissa Hummon, David Palchak, Brendan Kirby, and Mark O’Malley. The Value of Energy Storage for Grid Applications (Report Summary). NREL Technical Report TP-6A20-58465. (May 2013)

Denholm, Y-H. Wan, M. Hummon, M. Mehos. The value of CSP with thermal energy storage in the western United States. NREL. (2013)

Hummon, A. Weekley, K. Searight, and K. Clark, Downscaling Solar Power Output to 4-Seconds for Use in Integration Studies. NREL/CP-6A20-60335. (Oct 2013)

Marissa Hummon, Eduardo Ibanez, Gregory Brinkman, and Debra Lew, Sub-Hour Solar Data for Power System Modeling From Static Spatial Variability Analysis. NREL/CP-6A20-56204. (Dec 2012)

Daniel J. Olsen, Nance Matson, Michael D. Sohn, Cody Rose, Junqiao Dudley, Sasank Goli, and Sila Kiliccote, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Marissa Hummon, David Palchak, Paul Denholm, and Jennie Jorgenson, National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Ookie Ma, U.S. Department of Energy. Grid Integration of Aggregated Demand Response, Part 1: Load Availability Profiles and Constraints for the Western Interconnection. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. LBNL Paper LBNL-6417E. (2014).

Hummon, Marissa, David Palchak, Paul Denholm, Jennie Jorgenson, Daniel J. Olsen, Sila Kiliccote, Nance Matson et al. Grid integration of aggregated demand response, part 2: modeling demand response in a production cost model. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-58492. (2013)

Reuters, “This Company Won an Auction for Bankrupt SunEdison’s Wind, Solar Projects” (Sep 19, 2016)

Krysti Shallenberger and Gavin Bade, Utility Dive, “Nevada regulators approve NV Energy, SolarCity grandfathering proposal” (Sep 16, 2016)

Chris Mooney, Washington Post, “The government just decided the future of California’s desert, and solar companies aren’t happy” (Sep 14, 2016)

Andrew Ward, Financial Times, “Hinkley Point: Is the UK getting a good deal?” (Sep 15, 2016)

Alexandra Topping, The Guardian, “Your guide to Hinkley Point C – the UK’s first new nuclear plant for 20 years” (Sep 15, 2016)

Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, “Hinkley: What If?” (Aug 2016)

Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg, “Wind-Power Price Driven to Record in North Sea by Vattenfall” (Sep 12, 2016)

Matthew Carr, Bloomberg: “After Brexit Blow, Wind Parks at Sea Undermine Carbon Prices” (Sep 15, 2016)

Photo credit: By YellowForester – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Chris Nelder

Chris is an energy analyst, journalist, and investor, who consults and lectures on energy investing and policy. During a decade of studying energy, he has written two books on investing and energy Profit from the Peak and Investing in Renewable Energy, as well as over 900 blog posts and articles.

Tags: electric grid, energy transition, Renewable Energy