destinyland writes: Most studies aim for deep decarbonization of electric power systems by 2050,” argues a new study from the Center for Environmental Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. But they’ve produced a new report — “the first to show we can get there in half that time with the latest renewable energy and battery cost data.”
“Plummeting costs for wind and solar energy have dramatically changed the prospects for rapid, cost-effective expansion of renewable energy,” announces UC Berkeley’s School of Public Policy.
Even with no policy changes, they predict that by 2035 America will have achieved 55% clean energy usage (due to increases in solar and wind power) while experiencing a 10% reduction in electricity costs. But under their 90% Clean (carbon-free) scenario, “all existing coal plants are retired by 2035, and no new fossil fuel plants are built,” meaning the country “avoids over $1.2 trillion in health and environmental costs, including 85,000 avoided premature deaths, through 2050.”
During normal periods of generation and demand, wind, solar, and batteries provide 70% of annual generation, while hydropower and nuclear provide 20%. During periods of very high demand and/or very low renewable generation, existing natural gas, hydropower, and nuclear plants combined with battery storage cost-effectively compensate for mismatches between demand and wind/solar generation. Generation from natural gas plants constitutes about 10% of total annual electricity generation, which is about 70% lower than their generation in 2019.
“Without robust policy reforms,” their announcement adds, “most of the potential to reduce emissions and increase jobs would not be realized.”
Read more of this story at Slashdot.