NewEnergyNews: 80 Percent Renewables at Mid-Century? The smartest scientists at the nation’s energy labs explain how.

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YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, December 8:

  • TTTA Thursday- The Record Of The New EPA Head
  • TTTA Thursday-The Undeveloped New Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-Walking On New Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-Electric Tractor For Emissions-Free.Farming
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Turning Distributed Energy From Threat To Opportunity
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Policy Action Heats Up
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Maine’s Almost Solar Policy Breakthrough
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  • TODAY’S STUDY: How To Balance Competing Solar Interests
  • QUICK NEWS, December 6: Sliver Of Hope? Al Gore In Climate Change Meet With Donald Trump; The Opportunity In New Energy; Google Seizing New Energy Opportunity
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Way For New Energy To Meet Peak Demand
  • QUICK NEWS, December 5: Trial Of The Century Coming On Climate; The Wind-Solar Synergy; The Still Rising Sales Of Cars With Plugs
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Trump Truth And Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: The Daily Show Talks Pipeline Politics
  • Weekend Video: Beyond Polar Bears – The Real Science Of Climate Change
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Aussie Farmers Worrying About Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 1
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 2
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy And Historic Buildings In Europe
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, December 10-11:

  • A Climate Change Denier’s Lies Exposed
  • The Good News Numbers On The EV Boom
  • “This Is Just The Beginning”

    Thursday, November 01, 2012

    80 Percent Renewables at Mid-Century? The smartest scientists at the nation’s energy labs explain how.

    80 Percent Renewables at Mid-Century? The smartest scientists at the nation’s energy labs explain how.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 25, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    Scientists from major U.S. research institutions have brought out the "Renewable Electricity Futures Study," pronouncing the very real the possibility of 80 percent renewable energy by 2050.

    The study looked straight at the elephant in the room: At such high levels, “the unique characteristics of some renewable resources, specifically geographical distribution and variability and uncertainty in output, pose challenges to the operability of the U.S. electric system.” That, of course, raises questions of whether “the U.S. power system can supply electricity to meet customer demand with high levels of renewable electricity.”

    The three key questions the study tried to answer were:

    (1) How much electricity can U.S. resources supply?

    (2) Can the U.S. electric power system handle high levels of variable wind and solarphotovoltaics (PV)?

    (3) Can the synergies between the full spectrum of renewables -- wind, PV, concentrating solar power (CSP), hydropower, geothermal, and biomass -- and the aggregation of the full spectrum across the national landscape enable their use?

    The answers were, respectively:

    (1) 80 percent;

    (2) Yes -- with enough flexible conventional generation, more grid-scale storage, new transmission, more demand response, and changes in the way grid operators operate; and

    (3) Yes, the U.S. does have the technologies, manufacturing capacity, materials, and labor to make it happen, but the country would have to build faster, as fast as countries like Germany and China are now building.

    The study looked at “more than two dozen” scenarios. Its central scenario, the 80 percent penetration by 2050, relied on wind and solar for half the total penetration.

    Most importantly, 80 percent renewables will require, the study concluded, “a transformation of the electricity system” that would involve “every element of the grid, from system planning through operation.” This would entail:

    (1) better planning,

    (2) more and more flexible operating reserves,

    (3) “expanded multi-state transmission infrastructure,” and

    (4) “technology advances, new operating procedures, evolved business models, and new market rules.”

    The researchers -- more than 110 individuals at more than 35 of the nation’s top research labs and universities -- concluded that 80 percent renewables would create “deep reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions and water use. The “incremental cost” would, however, be no higher than “other clean energy scenarios,” and “improvement in the cost and performance of renewable technologies is the most impactful level for reducing this incremental cost.”

    The 80 percent scenario was based on estimates for five renewable resources. The most abundant U.S. renewable resource, according to the study, is solar. The U.S. technical potential of utility-scale PV was estimated at 80,000 gigawatts and CSP was put at 37,000 gigawatts. Distributed rooftop PV was estimated at 700 gigawatts.

    U.S. onshore and fixed-offshore wind resources were estimated at 10,000 gigawatts. Floating, deep-water wind potential, because it is not now commercially available, was not included. A 2011 DOE estimate is that the U.S. could have 696 million to 1,184 million annual dry tons of biomass, 52 percent to 61 percent of which is biomass crops, by 2030. That would be 100 gigawatts of biopower-generated electricity produced at standalone plants or co-fired in coal plants.

    There are an estimated 36 gigawatts of yet-to-be-developed U.S. geothermal potential. The report did not consider emerging but not yet commercially available geothermal technologies (e.g., enhanced geothermal systems, engineered hydrothermal reservoirs, geopressured resources, low temperature resources, co-production from oil and gas wells) that could add more than 500 additional gigawatts.

    Run-of-river hydropower in the U.S. could supply an estimated 152 gigawatts to 228 gigawatts. Although not included in the report, other hydropower technologies could also add more gigawatts.

    The ocean energies (wave energy, tidal energy, current energy and ocean thermal energy conversion) were not included because they were not considered to be commercially available.

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