ORIGINAL REPORTING: Is A National High Voltage Transmission System The Cheapest 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)
Ambitious plans like this may have to wait now.
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 numbers from Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on U.S. CO2 emissions. The software modeling that produced that conclusion — the National Electricity and Weather Systems (NEWS) tool — was programmed to optimize for the least expensive U.S. system. It produced two high-level insights. First, the larger U.S. electricity markets saw greater emissions and cost reductions as a result of the national transmission system modeled. Second, a U.S. low carbon future does not have to mean more costly electricity.
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 that would provide electrical power for every hour to every market while operating within current technology limits. The cost savings achieved in the NEWS model will be available because the wind and solar PV plants will be geographically dispersed over the entire contiguous U.S. and connected by HVDC transmission, which is more cost-effective and mitigates more carbon. NEWS didn’t consider the challenges of transmission development but simulations doubled the cost of the transmission build out…