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Resource portfolio design considerations for materially-efficient planning of 100% renewable electricity systems

Brian Tarroja, Brendan P. Shaffer and Scott Samuelsen

Energy, 2018, vol. 157, issue C, 460-471

Abstract: Different configurations of a 100% renewable electricity system are possible, but not all are equally desirable in terms of the scale of material resources required to sustain them. This study compares different approaches for developing a 100% renewable electricity system on the basis of the material mass investment required to sustain their physical components. Electric grid modeling accounting for operational constraints is used to determine the scale of energy technology capacities required to achieve a 100% renewable electricity system using California as a representative example and translating those requirements to material mass requirements. Using a wind/solar/storage approach requires exponentially growing capacities of energy storage to meet operational needs and requires significant material mass investments. Material resource efficiency of the system is shown to be improved by maximizing the use of regional non-variable renewables to the extent possible within local capacity constraints. Alternatively, overbuilding the wind and solar capacity in excess of that needed to meet annual demand is also shown to improve material resource efficiency of the system. Overall, different approaches for meeting a 100% renewable electricity penetration are not equally desirable when material resource usage is considered. This should be taken into account in future energy system planning studies.

Keywords: 100% renewable; Renewable energy; Materials usage; Energy storage; Electric grid; Dispatchable resources (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:157:y:2018:i:c:p:460-471