Decarbonizing US Power Grid Would Cost Up To $4.5T

Decarbonizing US Power Grid Would Cost Up To $4.5T
The transition to a 100 percent renewable U.S. power grid would need investment of up to $4.5 trillion over the next 10 to 20 years.

The transition to a 100 percent renewable U.S. power grid would need investment of up to $4.5 trillion over the next 10 to 20 years.

That’s according to new analysis from Wood Mackenzie (WoodMac), which estimates that about 1,600 gigawatts (GW) of new wind and solar capacity would be needed to produce enough energy to replace all fossil fuel generation in the country.

About 900 GW of new storage would also be needed to ensure wind and solar generated power is available exactly when consumers need it, WoodMac pointed out. Allowing 20 percent of the power mix to come from existing natural gas-fired generation would reduce renewable energy costs by roughly 20 percent and energy storage costs by at least 60 percent, WoodMac found.

“The mass deployment of wind and solar generation will require substantial investments in utility-scale storage to ensure grid resilience is maintained,” Dan Shreve, head of global wind energy research, said in a company statement.

"The challenges of achieving 100 percent renewable energy go far beyond the capital costs of new generating assets. Most notably, it will need a substantial redesign of electricity markets, migrating away from traditional energy-only constructs and more towards a capacity market,” he added.

In a live blog following the United States’ presidential primary debate on Thursday, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said promises of an imminent energy landscape powered entirely by alternative fuels “might make for an applause line but it’s less likely to make for plausible policy”.

“Instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, America’s policy leaders should pursue energy policies that value the resilience of a diverse energy portfolio,” the API stated in the blog.

Earlier this month, the UK laid legislation that will put it on track to become the first G7 country to set a net zero emissions target in law. The target is to get to net zero by 2050. Following the development, offshore oil and gas trade body Oil & Gas UK reinforced the role the industry can play in supporting the UK to meet its climate change ambitions.


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Rudolf Huber  |  July 04, 2019
This assumes that the unbelievable cost figures advanced by renewable advocates are true. But they are not. Renewables still live on diesel generators providing backup and as regulation has it, they do so for free. This situation will not be manageable forever as someone will have to foot the bill eventually and this is always going to be the taxpayer, the ratepayer or both. But those are also the voters and once they smell the rat, they will start booting those proposing such nonsense out of office. As happens in Australia right now and a number of European nations. This foolishness has a predetermined breaking point.
John Henderson  |  July 02, 2019
Net zero by 2050 is a laudable, and achievable goal. China and India will quickly follow the lead so as to preserve their standing among nations.
Hannah Nelsen  |  June 30, 2019
This article fails to mention some types of renewable power sources such as fuel cells and hydroelectric turbines.
John J Sarter  |  June 29, 2019
What else would you expect the American Petroleum Industry to say? Cost will be far less than that estimate, and NOT decarbonizing the electric grid will cost trillions more, and millions of lives.
John David La Rue  |  June 29, 2019
We could reduce our CO2 output to nil and China and India alone would cause world output to continue growing.
John David La Rue  |  June 29, 2019
If you do it in 10 years it is going to cost a lot more than the 20 year plan. Don't even know if 10 could be done. My response would be, what difference does it make with the huge amounts of dirty carbon being burned in China and India (coal, wood and dried cow dung).
Herschel Specter  |  June 28, 2019
About 80% of the greenhouse gases are produced by the end use sectors of transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial. To eliminate this 80% you will need far more electricity for electric vehicles, electrified space heating and hot water. The cost estimate is far greater than $ 4.5T
Juliet  |  June 28, 2019
US GDP is approximately 21 trillion dollars which means that we could decarbonize the grid with 1/4 of our ANNUAL economic output. That is a small cost and the only benefit we get is a liveable planet