By 2026, America’s Largest Grid Could Reach 30% Renewable Energy

by Silvio Marcacci

A new study reveals America’s largest grid operator could exponentially increase the amount of solar and wind electricity on its system, while lowering consumer costs and emissions, without negative effects on reliability.

JBS News Renewable Energy. PJM Interconnection footprint image via CleanTechnica
PJM Interconnection footprint image via CleanTechnica

The PJM Renewable Integration Study, prepared for PJM Interconnection by General Electric Energy Consulting, concludes renewables could provide up to 30% of the electricity across PJM’s 13-state footprint by 2026.

While PJM’s report is great news for the rapid power section decarbonization needed to slow climate change and could outline a path forward for other grids, it’s not without any negative outlook — in every modeled scenario, revenue for conventional generation sources like coal, natural gas, nuclear, or hydropower falls.

30% Renewable Energy With No Reliability Concerns

PJM commissioned the study in 2011 to better understand how the grid would be affected if the renewable energy targets of the states within its footprint were achieved or exceeded. Since PJM’s main concern is maintaining reliable and adequate power supplies and all but two of its member states have some form of renewable targets, it’s a valid concern.

GE Energy and a team of other industry experts modeled ten scenarios, ranging from maintaining the current 2% renewables penetration all the way up to obtaining 30% electricity from wind and solar. The study examined expected power demand growth, wind and solar output, required transmission upgrades, emissions, the value of wind and solar versus conventional baseload, and operational costs, among other factors.

JBS News Renewable Energy. Renewables addition potential in PJM. Image via PJM Interconnection
Renewables addition potential in PJM. Image via PJM Interconnection

And the results? In every scenario, PJM’s geographic footprint could accommodate a larger percentage of electricity supply from wind and solar without significant reliability issues, so long as adequate transmission expansion (up to $13.7 billion) happens across the system.

Wider Geographic Area, More Clean Energy

Once again, GE’s analysis shows the benefits of integrating renewables over a large geographic area. “Given the large PJM footprint…the impacts of short-term variability in wind and solar production is greatly reduced by aggregation and geographic diversity.” Put another way, if the sun stops shining or the wind stops blowing in one location, other renewables from across the system can fill the gap.

JBS News Renewable Energy. Renewable energy curtailment in PJM image via PJM Interconnection
Renewable energy curtailment in PJM. Image via PJM Interconnection

In fact, as more and more renewables were added to the PJM system in various modeling scenarios, their efficiency increased while peak demand fell. Curtailment of renewable generators (“turning off” a power system when it could run) was minimal and resulted from localized congestion instead of overall system constraints. Higher renewable generation also shifted consumer demand, with solar “significantly” reducing net demand during peak demand hours.

Fewer Fossil Fuels, Lower Costs, Less Emissions

As additional renewables come online, dirtier forms of energy were replaced. On average, 36% of added renewables displaced coal and 39% displaced natural gas, mainly on a cost basis. In fact, lower coal and natural gas generation occurs under every scenario, as “wind and solar resources are effectively price-takers and therefore replace more expensive generation resources.”

But perhaps most promising of all, every scenario created lower consumer costs across the system while cutting emissions. GE’s analysis found PJM fuel costs, variable operations and maintenance costs, and lower locational marginal prices all decline as the amount of renewables increase, with an average production cost savings of around $63 per megawatt-hour.

JBS News Renewable Energy. Renewables cost savings in PJM image via PJM Interconnection
Renewables cost savings in PJM. Image via PJM Interconnection

At the same time, carbon dioxide emissions fall drastically in every modeled scenario, ranging from a low of 12% all the way up to a high of 41% compared to a business-as-usual scenario where PJM maintains the current 2% renewables mix. The report also notes that a $40 per ton carbon tax, if instituted, would push coal generation down even further than modeled in any scenario.

JBS News Renewable Energy. CO2 emission reductions in PJM. Image via PJM Interconnection
CO2 emissions reductions in PJM. Image via PJM Interconnection

So Is The Future This Bright?

As with any long-term outlook, GE’s analysis is not without potential pitfalls. For instance, many of the PJM scenarios assume offshore wind development in Mid-Atlantic states like Maryland and Virginia along with improvements in renewable forecasting accuracy and growth in energy storage capacity.

But even considering all these challenges, the PJM renewables outlook shows that the transition to a clean energy system isn’t only possible, but it is likely to come with economic and environmental benefits.

This article, America’s Largest Grid System Could Reach 30% Renewable Energy By 2026, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

JBS News Renewable Energy. Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Denmark Success! Turns Climate Goals into Climate Law

by Joshua S Hill.

Denmark has officially enshrined their climate goals into law, as has been reported in several locations over the past 24 hours.

The official Danish Twitter account (@denmarkdotdk) linked to a post on website ‘tcktcktck.org’, confirming reports that the ruling party — the Social Democrats — along with the Conservative People’s Party, the Socialist People’s Party, and the Red-Green Alliance, had made the country’s climate goals a legislative reality.

Denmark have committed to reducing their country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020. In December of 2013, wind power accounted for 55% of the country’s electricity — a first for any country.

Renewable Energy. Offshore wind power. Horn's Reef, Denmark. Image courtesy of: Whatsupwiththat.com
Renewable Energy. Offshore wind power. Horn’s Reef, Denmark. Image courtesy of: Whatsupwiththat.com

Denmark has long been a powerhouse when it comes to renewable energy — most prominently thanks to their wind industry. A 2012 report from the American Wind Energy Association noted that the country acquired 26% of their yearly electricity demand from wind — a figure which will only have grown since then.

Denmark’s Climate, Energy and Building Minister, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, noted that the decision made it “truly a great day.”

“The broad agreement on the 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, to ensure meeting the ambitious targets that the government has set, will continue, even after an election,” Petersen said. “The Conservatives have announced their commitment to an agreement among the parties who take responsibility for the climate.”

Hopefully decisions like this will push other countries in the European Union — and around the world — to similarly make climate goals more than simple PR stunts to attract voters. The need for legally binding decisions like this is paramount as we move forward.

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This article, Denmark Turns Climate Goals Into Climate Law, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Joshua S. HillJoshua S Hill I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

Wind power surpasses Nuclear in China

by John Brian Shannon

Wind power has surpassed nuclear power to become China’s third-largest energy source.

In 2007, due to the political leadership of then-President Hu Jintao and then-Premier Wen Jaibao of China, renewable energy began a dramatic surge which continues to this day — one that by all accounts is expected to continue in that rapidly growing, and energy-ravenous country. A fortuitous convergence of German wind turbine technology, combined with the ability to manufacture them in China, ushered-in sudden lower prices for wind energy projects in the country. The resultant boom in wind turbine installations continues to this day.

Wind power [in China] exhibited an annual growth rate of more than 100 per cent from 2005 to 2009. With new installations of 13.8 GW coming on line in 2009, China led the world in added capacity, and is second in terms of installed capacity, after the U.S.  – UNEP Green Economy Success Stories Renewable Energy in China

Although wind installations in the country slowed in 2012 due to market forces, (compared to their breakneck 2011 pace) the rate of wind turbine installations are again expected to increase to record levels.

He Dexin, Chairman of the China Wind Energy Association said; [The] country’s development of wind power has slowed down, with 14 gigawatts of newly installed capacity from wind turbines in 2012, down from 20.66 gigawatts in 2011. — People’s Daily Online

But based on current projects under construction, China will be operating more than 100,000 megawatts (100 GW) of grid-connected wind capacity by 2015. The Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA) says China will be operating 200,000 megawatts (200 GW) of wind power by 2020.

highlights35_windnuclear
Image courtesy: IAEA (republished by Earth Policy Institute)

China has astronomical wind power potential, with total wind energy resources far outstripping electrical consumption in the country.

highlights35_potential
Image courtesy: EIA (republished by Earth Policy Institute)

Exponential growth for wind power is in China’s energy future as they ramp-up wind capacity from 2% of the total electrical energy mix in 2012, towards the Chinese government’s goal of supplying 16% of the country’s electrical energy requirements with renewable sources of all kinds, by 2020. Wind will form a large part of China’s renewable energy portfolio — as it is the natural choice for the country due to the steady onshore and offshore winds in thousands of suitable locations.