June 10, 2020 Read More →

New study finds U.S. grid can be 90% clean by 2035, and cost less too

Greentech Media:

It will be feasible to power the U.S. on 90 percent clean electricity by 2035 thanks to stunning declines in the costs of renewables, a new study finds.

In just a few years, decarbonizing the grid went from a solar-lover’s pipe dream to something many major American utilities have committed to, from Southern Company to Duke Energy. But utilities typically pick a midcentury deadline, as do states that have passed such goals. That puts execution comfortably beyond the tenure of anyone in power today. 

The new study, from UC Berkeley and GridLab, raises the stakes considerably. By using updated cost figures for wind, solar and batteries, the researchers found that it will be economically feasible to power a reliable grid by 2035, while only depending on natural gas for 10 percent of annual electricity production.

This scenario retires all coal plants by 2035 and does not require any new construction of gas plants. The cost of wholesale electricity would be 13 percent lower than it is today, in contrast to the common assumption that a shift to clean energy would radically increase expenses.

Cheaper, cleaner power without loss of reliability may sound too good to be true. But that’s what the study’s numbers suggest: Clean energy has become so cheap already that all prior predictions of future scenarios need a massive revision.

Setting the target at 90 percent clean removes the need to run the system only on renewables at all times; it can burn a little gas when absolutely necessary. This proved durable for meeting demand in every hour of the seven years modeled in the study to test reliability under annual variations in weather.

[Julian Spector]

More: 90% clean grid by 2035 is not just feasible, but cheaper, study says

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