J3.2 The Global Energy-Carbon Dilemma Can be Solved

Wednesday, 21 June 2017: 2:00 PM
Salon III (InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza)
Alexander E. MacDonald, Spire Global, Inc., Boulder, CO

A recent study on the Levelized Cost of Electricity shows that the three cheapest sources of electric energy generation are (1) wind, (2) solar and (3) natural gas, in that order (https://www.lazard.com/media/438038/levelized-cost-of-energy-v100.pdf). However, the intermittency problem of wind and solar energy make them incompatible as dominant generation sources of electricity within the electric system in its current configuration, which is dominated by small geographic areas. Wind and solar energy are “weather”, and as such, their energy spectrum is dominated by large geographic scales, like those seen on daily weather maps. A recent study showed that if the whole US 48 states are connected by High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission, the least expensive system would be dominated by wind and solar energy (https://goo.gl/zisc25). The system would reduce carbon emissions by about 80% compared to the existing fossil fuel energy generation suite, without an increase in electric costs. It is feasible to use underground cables for the HVDC network, which would help protect the US from EMP and other electric system threats, while making the rapid implementation less controversial and more feasible. Similar studies show that HVDC networks would work in Europe, China and other parts of the world, allowing a rapid decrease of carbon emissions globally.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner