US can run on 100% renewable power – but should it?
New paper quantifies the costs of a 100% RE power mix
It could be cheaper than you think to shift the US power mix to 100% renewables by 2050, but driving out the most efficient fossil fuel generators will almost certainly prove to be economically impractical – particularly if the transition is accelerated. That’s the headline conclusion from a detailed new study that seeks to quantify the challenge of reaching a 100% renewable energy power system for the contiguous US.
The academic paper (see full reference below) simulated pathways for achieving up to 100% RE power systems for the Lower 48 states. It found that a 100% RE mix could be achieved at an average CO2 abatement cost of just $61 per tonne.
Moreover, the overall system cost – that is, the cumulative cost of building and operating the bulk power system assets over the model horizon to 2050 – rises only marginally compared to preserving the current power mix at today’s ~20% RE penetration.
Replacing like-for-like gas, coal and gas…