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Palo Alto, Calif.-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a nonprofit center for public interest energy and environmental research, has released a new analysis to guide research and development (R&D) investments under four plausible scenarios facing the North American electric utility industry in the next 20 years.

The scenarios are combinations of high fuel costs and carbon constraints, including high gas prices, high emissions prices; high gas prices, low emissions prices; low gas prices, low emissions prices; and, low gas prices, high emissions prices. The report identifies critical technology needs in seven areas: power generation, electric energy storage, environmental controls, power delivery, end use, power and fuel markets, and regional markets. It then maps the technology requirements to the scenarios in the electric utility sector.

"This report serves as a guide for electric utilities, regulators, manufacturers and other key stakeholders when they consider their RD&D [research, development and deployment] objectives and funding priorities," says Robert Schainker, the report's principal author. "Our analysis details the current status of technology and identifies the gaps, which is highly valuable when utilities consider their RD&D options in a carbon-constrained operating environment."

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