Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How to keep everyone on the grid and get to 80% renewables by 2030

It is good to be back after a long absence from this blog.

My last post was about how a combination of solar + storage is likely to lead to massive "grid defection" over the coming 15 years.

Now, a study that suggests another way things MIGHT go.

A study published in the leading scientific journal Nature (and available online at the link) indicates that, for little or no net increase in the levelized cost of electricity, it would be possible to get the U.S.A. to 80% renewables by 2030.  How? A significant investment in the transmission grid, including new very high capacity, low loss, long distance DC (direct current) transmission.  The study looks at renewable generation and potential generation using detailed weather data, and concludes that even though sun and wind resources are intermittent and variable locally, across the U.S. as a whole the amount of electricity that can be generated by renewables at any one time is remarkably steady.

So, the authors suggest, the key is a grid that has sufficient capacity and resiliency to get the electricity from where it is produced at any time to where it would be consumed.  A huge undertaking ... but one that costs no more than building and fueling the traditional generation the nation will need if this is not done.