Study: a 100% RE-based system is feasible and a real policy option at a modest cost. Wind, solar, and electric grid interconnections to reduce storage are least cost choices

A Techno-Economic Study of an Entirely Renewable Energy-Based Power Supply for North America for 2030 Conditions Arman Aghahosseini * ID , Dmitrii Bogdanov and Christian Breyer ID Department of Electrical Engineering, School of Energy Systems, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Skinnarilankatu 34, Lappeenranta 53850, Finland; (D.B.); (C.B.) * Correspondence:; Tel.: +358-41-3697925 Received: 29 June 2017; Accepted: 3 August 2017; Published: 9 August 2017 Abstract: In this study power generation and demand are matched through a least-cost mix of renewable energy (RE) resources and storage technologies for North America by 2030. The study is performed using an hourly resolved model based on a linear optimization algorithm. The geographical, technical and economic potentials of different forms of RE resources enable the option of building a super grid between different North American regions. North America (including the U.S., Canada and Mexico in this paper), is divided into 20 sub-regions based on their population, demand, area and electricity grid structure. Four scenarios have been evaluated: region-wide, country-wide, area-wide and an integrated scenario. The levelised cost of electricity is found to be quite attractive in such a system, with the range from 63 €/MWhel in a decentralized case and 42 €/MWhel in a more centralized and integrated scenario. Electrical grid interconnections significantly reduce the storage requirement and overall cost of the energy system. Among all RE resources, wind and solar PV are found to be the least-cost options and hence the main contributors to fossil fuel substitution. The results clearly show that a 100% RE-based system is feasible and a real policy option at a modest cost. However, such a tremendous transition will not be possible in a short time if policy-makers, energy investors and other relevant organizations do not support the proposed system. Keywords: energy scenario; energy system modelling; solar PV; wind power; energy storage; North America; Canada; United States; Mexico