ORIGINAL REPORTING: Is A National Transmission System The Way To Cut Emissions?
Is a national high voltage transmission system the cheapest way to cut emissions?; Scientists call for HVDC lines connecting the nation’s wind, solar, and power markets
Herman K. Trabish, February 19, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The discussion about a national system has not advanced much since this story ran but efforts have increased to expand the power and reach of regional systems. Those efforts could be seen as groundwork for a national plan.
A high voltage direct current (HVDC) grid expansion to connect the nation’s best utility-scale wind, solar, and other renewable resources to 256 electricity markets is the cheapest way achieve big emissions reductions from the power sector by 2030, according to Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on U.S. CO2 emissions. Forecast costs for wind and solar suggest carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. electricity sector can be cut up to 80%, without an increase in the cost of consumers’ electricity, according to modeling by the National Electricity and Weather Systems (NEWS) tool.
NEWS was programmed to optimize for the least expensive U.S. system. Conclusions depend on the variables in NEWS and not all power systems experts agree with the findings. The solution NEWS lands on incorporates wind, solar PV, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric generators. It assumes the build out of a nationwide HVDC transmission network and that electrical power is provided to every market at every hour while operating within current technology limits. Key to the cost savings achieved in the NEWS model is that the wind and solar PV plants are geographically dispersed over the entire contiguous U.S. and that transmission is available to deliver their output to markets… click here for more