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Solar electricity generation across large geographic areas, Part II: A Pan-American energy system based on solar

Wolf D. Grossmann, Iris Grossmann and Karl Steininger ()

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2014, vol. 32, issue C, 983-993

Abstract: Due to the rapid decrease of the costs of photovoltaics, large schemes for solar electricity generation have recently been suggested. The new method of isolines or contour lines between generation capacity and storage for a specific load allows a thorough review of these schemes. Such a review is necessary given that the costs of photovoltaics have been and are decreasing much more rapidly than the costs of storage. We apply this method to the “Solar Grand Plan” proposed by Zweibel, Fthenakis and Mason. The Grand Plan connects only a small number of time zones and is restricted to the northern hemisphere. Schemes recently suggested, e.g., for the Asian–Australian region would connect both hemispheres. In such spatially extended schemes the substitutability between generation capacity and storage can be extended to also include transmission lines. We review the Grand Plan against the background of several spatially extended Pan-American schemes and show how major drawbacks of the Grand Plan with respect to overcapacity can be overcome based on hourly scaling of NASA Solar Sizer insolation data and optimization of the required generation capacity and storage. We then outline transmission lines for Pan-American networks, transmission costs, projected solar electricity costs, and line utilization rates. In addition to enabling significant cost savings through reduced overcapacity, Pan-American schemes enable revenue flows and improved availability of electricity that are favorable for economic development.

Keywords: Review of large-scale solar energy network; Renewable energy; US super grid; Solar intermittency; Hourly insolation data; Pan-American grid; Substitution between generation capacity and storage (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2014.01.003

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