Michael Ferris, Stephen C. Kleene Professor in Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, gave a plenary talk at the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE19).

Ferris, who is a principal investigator in the MACSER project, spoke on “Modelling 100 Percent Renewable Electricity.”

In recent years, several countries have announced target dates for a 100% renewable electricity system. Such targets require long-term investment planning. To this end, Ferris and his team are developing models that aim to ensure enough generation capacity for the long term under various constraints related to environmental concerns – while paying special attention to the recovery of costs for this enhanced infrastructure.

“Costs can be significant in efforts to meet target goals for renewable energy, yet typically they have not been modeled in the context of socially optimal power system markets,” Ferris said. “Designers and decision-makers need to consider not just the percentage of decreased emissions but also investment fees, fuel costs, and electricity prices.”

In his talk, Ferris highlighted how contracts can be used to reduce or recover these costs.  He also discussed how models can be used to compare several “100% renewable” investment scenarios.

The CSE19 conference was SIAM’s biggest to date. Held in Spokane, Washington, Feb. 25-March 1, it attracted almost 2,000 attendees, an indication of the increasing importance of scientific computation in scientific research.