Energy Access, Equity, and Fairness

The Talks are off and running at INFORMS! I love that at this conference you can explore almost any application area. My Sunday was spent exploring topics of energy modeling for social good. In the “SB86 Modeling for Electricity Access” session led by Juan Pablo Carvallo there were 5 talks on modeling the electricity expansion problem with a focus on the developing world. Juan Pablo started us off with some lessons from the GAP model, which allows you to investigate the deployment of centralized and behind the meter generation. Destenie Nock was next with her equity model. Here she uses a benefit maximization model as opposed to a least cost model. In the objective function she incorporates a stakeholder’s preference for equality and analyzed how this impacts the optimal electrification strategy. The impact of this a way to make the case for why people should care about equality. The trade-offs between low and high preferences for equality are seen through investments in transmission infrastructure. She had recently presented her work at a stakeholder workshop in Ghana, and found the group to be receptive to her work.

Yuang Chen investigated how electrification plans changed under different budget and fairness constraints. Fairness was defined as the difference in per-capita peak demand between urban and rural customers. Pablo Duenas presented the REM model for India, which is a detailed analysis for geo-electrification planning. Lastly Ayse Selin Kocaman presented a set of metrics that could be used to measure the value of networked options for a given area. 

In all of these talks I saw a theme of equity and fairness in electrification planning for the developing world. By understanding the equity impacts and how the optimal strategy changes under different social constraints we will have a better chance of reaching the universal access goal.