Getting to 100 percent renewables isn’t just about investing heavily in wind and solar. Utilities can get to 50 percent easily enough this way, even to 70, 80 or 90 percent. However, Colorado utility executives say the last 10 to 30 percent will require an expanded electricity market, cost-effective battery storage, and finessed demand on the local level. To learn more, read “Getting to 100% renewable energy.”

Key Takeaways:

  • This discussion about the three ways Colorado can get to 100 percent renewable energy occurred on a webinar sponsored by Payne Institute of Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines and the Colorado Energy Research Collaboratory with representatives from wholesale energy suppliers in Colorado.
  • Expanded market: The arrival of renewables at scale made the need for greater connectivity from the clustering of utilities abundantly clear.  However, utilities are already making progress with this first challenge.
  • Battery storage: To completely shed coal and natural gas, utilities need improved storage. Lithium-ion batteries will unlikely be able to meet the need for improved storage because of their current limitations and high cost.
    • In the meantime, utilities are turning to other sources, such as hydrogen.
  • Finessed demand: Utilities also see the need to finesse demand and supplies at the micro-level. One component in this will be the charging of electric vehicles during times when power is abundant.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Meeting these 50 or 80 percent targets on the path to 100 percent renewable energy is possible with heavy investment in renewable sources like wind and solar. But in order to solve problems of grid variability and not drive up costs for ratepayers, utilities must think critically and practically about how to make it all the way to 100 percent. This discussion with Colorado Energy stakeholders showcases three primary challenges utilities must navigate to meet the state’s clean energy goals.