Investigation of Residential Central Air Conditioning Load Shapes in NEMS

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This memo explains what Berkeley Lab has learned about how the residential central air conditioning (CAC) end use is represented in the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). NEMS is an energy model maintained by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that is routinely used in analysis of energy efficiency standards for residential appliances. As part of analyzing utility and environmental impacts related to the federal rulemaking for residential CAC, lower-than-expected peak demand results prompted Berkeley Lab to investigate the input load shapes that characterize the peaky CAC end use and the submodule that treats load demand response. Investigations enabled a thorough understanding of the methodology by which hourly load profiles are input to the model and how the model is structured to forecast peak demand. Notably, it was discovered that NEMS was using an October-peaking load shape to represent residential space cooling, which suppressed peak effects to levels lower than expected. An apparent scaling down of the annual load within the load-demand submodule was found, another significant suppressor of the peak impacts. EIA promptly responded to Berkeley Lab's discoveries by updating numerous load shapes for the AEO2002 version of NEMS; EIA is still studying the scaling issue. As a result of this work, it was concluded that Berkeley Lab's customary end-use decrement approach was the most defensible way for Berkeley Lab to perform the recent CAC utility impact analysis. This approach was applied in conjunction with the updated AEO2002 load shapes to perform last year's published rulemaking analysis. Berkeley Lab experimented with several alternative approaches, including modifying the CAC efficiency level, but determined that these did not sufficiently improve the robustness of the method or results to warrant their implementation. Work in this area will continue in preparation for upcoming rulemakings for the other peak coincident end uses, commercial air conditioning and distribution transformers.

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