Renewable energy could potentially supply 80 percent of US electricity demand by 2050, according to a recent report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Technology available today is “more than adequate” to get the nation running on mostly clean power in a matter of decades. With increased electrical system flexibility, supply and demand will become easier to balance and systems will be equipped to handle a variety of renewable energy resources.
"While this analysis suggests such a high renewable generation future is possible, a transformation of the electricity system would need to occur to make this future a reality. This transformation, involving every element of the grid, from system planning through operation, would need to ensure adequate planning and operating reserves, increased flexibility of the electric system, and expanded multi-state transmission infrastructure, and would likely rely on the development and adoption of technology advances, new operating procedures, evolved business models, and new market rules," the report says.
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As with other reports, the study also notes that lowering the cost and improving performance of renewable technologies will be the most important way to reduce the higher cost of renewables. Though the report is considered the most comprehensive analysis of high-penetration renewable electricity in the US to date, it was conducted in 2010. Since then, the price of solar has steeply declined and natural gas has risen in popularity.
Similarly, another report showed how renewable energy can supply 95% of the world's electricity by 2050, while creating 12 million jobs, according to Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) back in 2010.