The Renewable Electricity Futures Study (RE Futures) is an initial investigation of the extent to which renewable energy supply can meet the electricity demands of the contiguous United States over the next several decades. This study includes geographic and electric system operation resolution that is unprecedented for long-term studies of the U.S. electric sector. The analysis examines the implications and challenges of renewable electricity generation levels—from 30% up to 90%, with a focus on 80%, of all U.S. electricity generation from renewable technologies—in 2050. At such high levels of renewable electricity penetration, the unique characteristics of some renewable resources, specifically geographical distribution and variability and uncertainty in output, pose challenges to the operability of the U.S. electric system. The study focuses on some key technical implications of this environment, exploring whether the U.S. power system can supply electricity to meet customer demand with high levels of renewable electricity, including variable wind and solar generation. The study also begins to address the potential economic, environmental, and social implications of deploying and integrating high levels of renewable electricity in the United States.
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