RethinkX proposes and predicts a 100% SWB (solar wind and battery for the USA) system by 2030 for less than $2 trillion. This would have an average cost of electricity nationwide of under 3 cents per kilowatt-hour if 50% or more of the system’s super power is utilized. They relabel excess energy capacity and generation as “super power”.
Lowest cost 100% SWB systems will typically require just 35-90 average demand hours of battery energy storage, depending on regional climate and geography.
The world in 2021 will produce about 200-300 GW of solar panels each year. This has been increasing at 20% per year. This would be on track to scale to 1000GW-1500 GW per year in 2030. This would be about 5400 GW produced in the world by 2030. The California, Texas and New England scenarios would be 660 GW to 1100 GW. The USA would need about 4 times this level of solar which would be 2600GW to 4400GW.
In 2018, the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy policy think tank, recently found that reaching the 80 percent mark for renewables in California would mean massive amounts of surplus generation during the summer months, requiring 9.6 million megawatt-hours (9.6 TWh) of energy storage. Achieving 100 percent would require 36.3 million MWh (36.3 TWh).
RethinkX is saying that 100% power generation in California can be achieved with 30-40 times less battery storage by purposely creating over capacity in solar and wind generation. This way when power is cut by 90% in the winter a 5X system would still generate 50% of the demand. This would mean less usage of batteries.
The 3 cent per kwh price would be more expensive than continuing to operate nuclear reactors that were fully capitalized.
There are new modular nuclear reactors that could be competitive on price and would provide greater reliability to the system.
The RethinkX cost estimate does not factor in additional power grid modifications. Greater grid stability would be achieved by connecting regions with high voltage lines.
Nextbigfuture does believe that there will be a great deal of solar, wind and battery power. However, forcing 100% as a policy and trying to rush projects would needlessly increase costs. There is also the need to simulate 100-200 years of operation of a grid. The solar and wind energy are weather dependent and large amounts of wind power reduces ground-level wind.
There are also supply chain scaling issues to achieve the needed supply of solar, wind and batteries.
Displacing coal energy should be prioritized but shutting off clean and safe nuclear plants would be a needless risk and waste.
SOURCES- RethinkX, MIT Technology Review, SP Global
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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