Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time

Cory Budischak, DeAnna Sewell, Heather Thomson, Leon Mach, Dana E. Veron, Willett Kempton

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Abstract

We model many combinations of renewable electricity sources (inland wind, offshore wind, and photovoltaics) with electrochemical storage (batteries and fuel cells), incorporated into a large grid system (72 GW). The purpose is twofold: 1) although a single renewable generator at one site produces intermittent power, we seek combinations of diverse renewables at diverse sites, with storage, that are not intermittent and satisfy need a given fraction of hours. And 2) we seek minimal cost, calculating true cost of electricity without subsidies and with inclusion of external costs. Our model evaluated over 28 billion combinations of renewables and storage, each tested over 35,040 h (four years) of load and weather data. We find that the least cost solutions yield seemingly-excessive generation capacity—at times, almost three times the electricity needed to meet electrical load. This is because diverse renewable generation and the excess capacity together meet electric load with less storage, lowering total system cost. At 2030 technology costs and with excess electricity displacing natural gas, we find that the electric system can be powered 90%–99.9% of hours entirely on renewable electricity, at costs comparable to today's—but only if we optimize the mix of generation and storage technologies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Volume225
Pages (from-to)60-74
ISSN0378-7753
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • Variable generation
  • Renewable energy
  • Electrochemical storage
  • High-penetration renewables

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