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100% Renewable Energy Scenarios for North America: Spatial Distribution and Network Constraints

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Elmar Zozmann, Leonard Göke, Mario Kendziorski, Citlali Rodriguez del Angel, Christian von Hirschhausen, Johanna Winkler

In: Energies 14 (2021), 3, 658, 17 S.


The urgency to combat climate change and the widely distributed, increasingly competitive renewable resources in North America are strong arguments to explore scenarios for a renewable energy supply in the region. While the current power system of North America is heavily dependent on fossil fuels, namely natural gas, coal and oil, and some nuclear power plants, some current policies at the state level, and future federal policies are likely to push the share of different renewable sources available in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. This paper explores three scenarios for a renewable energy supply, using a bottom-up energy system model with a high level of spatial and time granularity. The scenarios span the extremes with respect to connecting infrastructure: while one scenario only looks at state-level supply and demand, without interconnections, the other extreme scenario allows cross-continental network investments. The model results indicate that the North American continent (a) has sufficient renewable potential to satisfy its energy demand with renewables, independent of the underlying grid assumption, (b) solar generation dominates the generation mix as the least-cost option under given renewable resource availability and (c) simultaneous planning of generation and transmission capacity expansion does not result in high grid investments, but the necessary flexibility to integrate intermittent renewable generation is rather provided by the existing grid in combination with short-term and seasonal storages.

Keywords: 100 percent renewable energies; capacity expansion modeling; electricity market integration

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