This report covers reducing all sources of CO2, not just electricity generation. It uses detailed modelling of future demand based on increased electrification and future alternative energy electricity supply based on reducing CO2 emissions to zero by 2050. It also models the intermittent nature of wind and solar using long term historical data. The report represents the work of many analysts over a long time and is based on tools developed over many years.
Most people won’t read such a long report. Its conclusions are broadly in line with our simpler analysis. They modelled future scenarios based on California’s political consensus. It includes no nuclear and no new large hydro including pumped storage. It mainly relies on wind, solar and battery storage.
They modeled solutions based on keeping a large part of current natural gas capacity as a backup and other solutions that instead increased battery storage. As with any reasonable analysis that realistically models renewable intermittency they find that the increased battery storage approach very rapidly rises to unrealistic high costs of electricity. The natural gas solution only adds a little CO2 and by 2050 it is unlikely that all sectors will reduce CO2 to zero either. It's the pragmatic solution.
They project electricity prices rising significantly despite reducing costs for wind, solar and batteries. The cost estimates are the weakest part of the report. Additional costs for transmission and distribution are not considered and they will be significant.
This report is inline with Stratosolars assessment. Current renewables will lead to significantly higher electricity costs and the demand for 100% renewables only damages the pragmatic “good” by demanding the unobtainable “best”.
Because of its three times higher capacity factor and no long term intermittency, Stratosolar would be a vastly superior solution to what this report indicates is California's likely energy future. California is rich. Most other economies, particularly in the developing world cannot afford the California solution. California may not be able to afford the California solution.
By Edmund Kelly