The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently studied how renewable energy can respond to the electricity demands of the U.S. in the coming decades.
The report, titled Renewable Electricity Futures Study (RE Futures), looks at the effects of renewable electricity generation levels between 30% to 90%, envisioning 80% renewable electricity by 2050. It considers key factors such as physical geographies and output fluctuation, things that could disrupt certain renewable sources.
The report concluded that 80% renewable electricity by 2050 is a viable option with existing renewable technologies, mainly requiring advances in the electric system to meet standard electricity demand per hour.
The report outlined several suggestions for the more adaptable electric system necessary including grid storage, more responsive loads, modified conventional generation systems, and adaptations to power system operations.
The report also emphasized that the sheer quantity of renewable energy sources would enable us optimize renewable power technologies to drastically reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally, the report indicates that reducing incremental cost is crucial to widespread renewable technologies, and this can be done through overall cost reduction and performance enhancement.
The report is the most in-depth look at the technical feasibilities of introducing renewable energy technologies into existing infrastructure, gradually transitioning to a future where the vast majority of the nation’s power is generated from renewable systems. The four-part report will prove invaluable to stimulating larger discussions concerning the future of our country’s electric power systems.
Funds for the research were provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and it was carried out by contributors from over 35 organizations.