In the absence of any mandated carbon dioxide reductions, renewable portfolio standards, subsidies or carbon taxes, a typical US electric utility can achieve significant carbon reductions just based on economic considerations alone. In the case of PNM Resources in New Mexico, the bulk annual CO2 emissions in 2040 are projected to be 80% less than in 2020, even though the load is projected to be higher in 2040 than 2020. The implications are that electric utilities can reasonably expect to achieve high renewable energy efficiencies and dramatic CO2 reductions independent of policy, driven mainly by affordability of wind, solar and battery storage.
The path to a 100% carbon-free portfolio that disallows combustion of renewable fuels is the most expensive option. If a utility must be 100% carbon-free, reliant on nuclear and hydro, Variable Renewable Energy (VRE’s) such as wind and solar, and storage alternatives (like batteries) which are almost universally sub 12-hour duration, a necessary consequence is overbuild. Read more →
Wärtsilä estimated costs for a representative U.S. utility as it transitions across a typical 20-year planning horizon, from moderate renewable penetration in year one to 100% in year twenty, assuming one of two pathways: carbon- free (no thermal in final year or beyond), or carbon-neutral (combustion of renewable fuels only in final year and beyond). These costs were then compared to the same utility assuming no carbon requirements and investment decisions driven purely by economics. Read more →