The Energy Department today released a report which confirms that adding even limited electricity transmission can significantly reduce the costs of expanding wind energy to supply 35% of U.S. electricity by 2050. The report, titled Reducing Wind Curtailment through Transmission Expansion in a Wind Vision Future and authored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), affirms the findings of the Energy Department’s 2015 Wind Vision, which showed that a future in which wind provides 20% of U.S. electricity in 2030 and 35% in 2050 is achievable and would provide significant economic, energy security, and health benefits to the nation.
For the study, NREL simulated operation of the electric power grid under a scenario where 35% of electricity comes from wind in the year 2050 using PLEXOS, an integrated modeling tool commonly used by utilities and transmission organizations. The study focuses on the Western Interconnection grid, which includes 11 states, two Canadian provinces, and parts of northern Mexico where the U.S. grid crosses the border. The study includes a baseline scenario assuming no significant transmission expansion across the western grid, as well as three scenarios with varying levels of transmission buildout.