Lab members win US energy economics case competition

Winning report on harnessing geothermal power using multi-criteria decision-making

Lab members Manh Tri Dao, Jenny Nicolas, Shiny Choudhury, and Zhenhua Zhang win gold at the case competition hosted by the US Association for Energy Economics. This year’s competition involved the evaluation of geothermal projects for the hypothetical Energy Oversight Board (EOB), experienced in regulating conventional oil and gas but new to geothermal energy. The team, acting as consultants, was tasked with a techno-economic assessment for potential geothermal development.

The UC San Diego team’s winning report, “Harnessing Geothermal Power: Global Lessons and Decision-Making Strategies”, summarized international experiences, detailed benefit-cost analyses, and developed a multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) framework using the analytic hierarchy process, a method that structures complex decisions into a hierarchy of factors and alternatives for systematic evaluation. This approach, applied hypothetically as if consulting with experts, allowed them to balance various aspects such as environmental impact, economic feasibility, and technological readiness. The MCDM framework can be used to assess hypothetical geothermal projects looking to be permitted. The team developed GeoVal, an open-source Python-based evaluation tool for geothermal projects that are to be interconnected to the electricity grid. GeoVal assists in understanding the implications of the grid integration under different levels of renewable energy penetration, and its impact on various components of system cost and electricity prices.

Read more about the competition