Peer-reviewed study says wind, PV solar and storage can do 90% renewables inexpensively

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Combinations of onshore wind, offshore wind, and photovoltaic solar, paired with battery and hydrogen storage in a widespread grid system, could meet 90 percent to 99.9 percent of expected 2030 demand at almost no increased cost, according to a new study.

The priority of the Regional Renewable Electricity Economic Optimization Model (RREEOM) was to see if demand could be met largely with renewables at an affordable cost.

To model that, the researchers incorporated into RREEOM the “four known options: geographical expansion, diversifying resources (e.g., solar plus wind), storage, and fossil backup.”

The model used prices that left out federal and state subsidies but included the costs of fossil fuel externalities.

With storage, according to report co-author Cory Budischak, “we can run an electric system that today would meet a need of 72 gigawatts 99.9 percent of the time, using 17 gigawatts of solar, 68 gigawatts of offshore wind, and 115 gigawatts of inland wind.”

So much free fuel from renewables would be available across the geographically dispersed 72-gigawatt PJM grid region that it would not only almost eliminate the need for natural gas reserves, but would also keep the power price low and minimize the need for incurring the cost of battery storage.

Renewable resource supply is adequate, the researchers noted, referencing studies that concluded “a shift to renewable power will increase the energy available to humanity.” Such studies have shown, the report noted, “that global energy demand, roughly 12.5 terawatts increasing to 17 terawatts in 2030, can be met with just 2.5 percent of accessible wind and solar resources, using current technologies.”

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