Individuals, governments, and businesses are pushing to decarbonize society, and a core component of reducing carbon emissions is shifting to renewable energy for the generation of electricity. A transition to 100 percent clean, carbon-free electricity by 2050 is necessary in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent. Renewable generation has grown rapidly, doubling in the last 10 years, and the global power generation mix is transitioning to renewable energy sources.
Though the effort to decarbonize via renewables is essential, the power grid’s limited ability to accommodate renewable generation presents a challenge to the industry. In fact, increasing renewable generation capacity is not resulting in the expected growth in electricity generated from renewables.
This trend is the result of a saturation effect—as more increments of renewable capacity are added to the grid, the energy generation contribution of these capacity increments becomes smaller and smaller. Constraints that contribute to this saturation effect include transmission limitations based on new generation locations relative to load, increased transmission distances, and transmission congestion. Other limiting factors include lack of energy storage, coordination with other generation resources, and the challenge of balancing power supply and demand.