A new report by researchers from the University of Delaware (UD) and Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) demonstrates that a huge electrical system could be run almost exclusively by renewable energy by 2030 at close to today’s energy costs. Blowing up the myth that renewable energy is unreliable and expensive, UD and DTCC researchers have shown that with a smart combination of solar, wind, fuel cells and battery storage, electricity demand can easily be met while keeping energy costs low.

Researchers used a model with a whopping 28 billion combinations of storage and renewable energy tested over historical weather data and electricity use over a four-year span to determine the most reliable and cost-effective solution. The model incorporated data from within a large regional grid that includes 13 states and represents one-fifth of the total electric grid of the US.

Because wind speeds and sun exposure vary with weather and seasons, renewable energy poses a major challenge when it comes to reliability. Researchers addressed this challenge by expanding the geographic area of renewable generation, using diverse sources, employing storage systems, and as a last resort, burning fossil fuels. During the hours when not enough renewable energy was generated, the model drew from the storage system to meet demand. And on the rare occasion that even the storage system was tapped out, fossil fuel would be made available to bridge the gap.

Researchers at UD and DTCC not only focused on making renewable energy more reliable, but they also looked intently at how to do so cost-effectively. Estimates in the report suggest that capital costs in 2030 for wind and solar would actually be 50% less than today’s capital process, while maintenance costs would be in line with what we see today. The authors of the report came to a surprising conclusion that “aiming for 90% or more renewable energy in 2030, in order to achieve climate change targets of 80 to 90% reduction of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the power sector, leads to economic savings.”

+ University of Delaware

+ Delaware Technical Community College

Via Clean Technica