Modeling Electricity Markets with Complementarity: Why It's Important (and Fun)

Monday, November 19, 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Event Calendar Category

LIDS Seminar Series

Speaker Name

Benjamin Hobbs


Johns Hopkins University

Building and Room Number



Electric power: done wrong, it drags the economy and environment down; done right, it could help to create a more efficient, brighter, and cleaner future. Better policy, planning, and operations models--both simple analytical, and complex computational ones--are essential if we're going to do it right. Better modeling is also fun, as the math of electricity models is inherently interesting and revealing --models often show flaws in our intuition. Used intelligently, models can point us towards better regulations, investments, and operating policies. Simple models provide insights, while complex models provide the numbers needed to choose specific investments and policies.


Complementarity is one optimization-based approach to modeling energy markets that has more flexibility to model market failures than standard optimization methods. Prof. Hobbs will highlight one application using the power market model COMPETES: the design of renewable portfolio standards, and an analysis of their price and economic efficiency impacts in the Year 2030. The focus is on energy versus capacity subsidies in the European Union; capacity subsidies are being promoted as potentially being more effective in promoting technology learning. They also have less of an impact upon electricity prices. Prof. Hobbs will also examine the cost of country-specific targets versus EU-wide targets.


Acknowledgements: Government of the Netherlands and NSF for funding; my PBL colleagues Ozge Ozdemir, Paul Koustaal, and Marit van Hout.


B.F. Hobbs earned a Ph.D. (Environmental Systems Engineering) in 1983 from Cornell University. He holds the Theodore M. and Kay W. Schad Chair of Environmental Management at the Johns Hopkins University, where he has been in the Department of Geography & Environmental Engineering (now Environmental Health & Engineering) since 1995. He also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Applied Mathematics & Statistics, and is founding director of the JHU Environment, Energy, Sustainability & Health Institute. He codirects the EPA Yale-JHU Center for Solutions for Energy, Air, Climate and Health (SEArCH). Previously, he was at Brookhaven and Oak Ridge National Laboratories and a member of the Systems Engineering and Civil Engineering faculty at Case Western Reserve University.


His research and teaching concern the application of systems analysis and economics to electric utility regulation, planning, and operations, as well as environmental and water resources systems. Dr. Hobbs has previously held visiting appointments at CalTech, Comillas Pontifical University, Helsinki University of Technology, University of Washington, Netherlands Energy Research Center, and Cambridge University. He chairs the Market Surveillance Committee of the California Independent System Operator. He was named a NSF Presidential Young Investigator in 1986. Dr. Hobbs is a Fellow of the IEEE and INFORMS.