This week I finally had the pleasure to meet my UC Berkeley Supervisor, Prof. Daniel Kammen, in person. We had a kick-off meeting aimed at framing the work that I will be doing during my visiting period here in Berkeley.
Naturally, the choice of the host institution for the outgoing phase of my fellowship has not been made randomly: the synergy with the Renewable & Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) directed by Prof. Kammen is strategic, in fact, because this research center is a leader in the field of energy modeling. In particular, SWITCH, a detailed bottom-up optimization model of the power sector, has been developed here and a strong developing work is currently under way at the laboratory.
According to my proposal – as described in the About section – during the first year of the MERCURY project I will have to improve the modeling of the power sector in the WITCH model, adopting SWITCH as a reference. However, during the discussion Prof. Kammen and I agreed that a more interactive, two-way collaboration could be more fruitful: on the one hand, as planned, WITCH will be improved also taking inspiration from SWITCH, but on the other hand solutions to make the two models interact, or ideally to integrate SWITCH in an integrated assessment model framework, will be explored as well. By the way, it is indeed quite funny that the two models almost have the very same name: I hope I will never get confused in referring to them!
For instance, transportation (which by the way is a topic that I already deal with in WITCH) might be one field where this interaction could be developed, with a particular reference to the road passenger sector. This sector is likely to be characterized by a strong electrification in the next decades – and California is a global trailblazer with ambitious targets for the very next years – and it is easy to understand how this could be interesting to be analyzed in my project’s perspective.
In any case, the first task of the MERCURY project precisely consists in the study of SWITCH: in the next weeks I will familiarize with the model, in order to better understand how to practically carry out the work described above.