“LCOE metrics ignore one important consideration. Renewable generation is intermittent and frequently unpredictable. Furthermore, the uneven geographic distribution of wind and solar potential is likely to stress the grid in some locations, leading to transmission and distribution constraints.”

What types of grid services can these provide as electricity markets and policies evolve?

Renewables such as wind and solar now account for the majority share of new electricity generation capacity being built globally. Though still dwarfed in the generating fleet by more traditional generation options such as coal, gas, and nuclear power, intermittent resources have risen dramatically, first aided by supportive policies, technology advances, and consumer preferences but now driven more by economics.

1 This has resulted in a growth of the contribution of renewable generation in the United States. As of year-end 2017, approximately 17 percent of electricity in the United States was generated by renewables (including hydropower). Through March 2018, renewables accounted for about 21 percent of all electric generating capacity.

2 The European Union is even farther ahead of the United States: in 2017, approximately 30 percent of the EU’s electricity was generated by renewable energy sources.

3 The rise of renewables is expected to continue, at least for the next few years. Policy makers in the European Union have set high and aspirational decarbonization goals: by 2030, cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent compared to a 1990 baseline.

4 Germany’s coalition government agreement

5 set a new 65 percent target for renewable penetration by 2030. France is aiming for a 40 percent share of renewables in electricity production.

6 In the United States, despite the announced withdrawal from the Paris accord, some states are implementing their own renewable-energy policies: California,

7 New Jersey, and New York have required utilities under their jurisdiction to have 50 percent of their electricity come from renewable resources by 2030, while Massachusetts recently enacted a 35 percent renewable portfolio standard. Many utilities in the United States are […]