If the U.S. ceases to burn coal, shuts down a quarter of existing nuclear reactors and trims its use of natural gas by 2050, the resulting increased reliance on wind, solar and other renewables will not result in a less reliable electricity grid, according to a new report prepared by Synapse Energy Economics Inc. for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute.
The new study finds that in the envisioned 2050 with a heavy reliance on renewables, regional electricity generation supply could meet or exceed demand in 99.4% of hours, with load being met without imports from other regions and without turning to reserve storage. In addition, the report adds, surplus power would be available to export in 8.6% of all hours, providing an ample safety net where needed from one region of the U.S. to the next.
‘Put simply, the message today is this: It is a myth to say that the United States cannot rely on renewables for the bulk of its electricity generation," says Thomas Vitolo, analyst at Synapse Energy Economics Inc. and the report's co-author. "This study finds that the projected mixes, based entirely on existing technology and operational practices, are capable of balancing projected load in 2030 and 2050 for each region – in nearly every hour of every season of the year.’
The full report is available here.