|Milligan, M.; Ela, E.; Hein, J.; Schneider, T.; Brinkman, G.; Denholm, P.|
The Renewable Electricity Futures (RE Futures) Study investigated the challenges and impacts of achieving very high renewable electricity generation levels in the contiguous United States by 2050. The analysis focused on the sufficiency of the geographically diverse U.S. renewable resources to meet electricity demand over future decades, the hourly operational characteristics of the U.S. grid with high levels of variable wind and solar generation, and the potential implications of deploying high levels of renewables in the future. RE Futures focused on technical aspects of high penetration of renewable electricity; it did not focus on how to achieve such a future through policy or other measures. Given the inherent uncertainties involved with analyzing alternative long-term energy futures as well as the multiple pathways that might be taken to achieve higher levels of renewable electricity supply, RE Futures explored a range of scenarios to investigate and compare the impacts of renewable electricity penetration levels (30%-90%), future technology performance improvements, potential constraints to renewable electricity development, and future electricity demand growth assumptions. RE Futures was led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).