EPRI: Full Technology Portfolio Best Way to Meet Future Demand and Carbon Constraints

To meet future demand as well as carbon constraints, the U.S. power industry should by 2030 build 45 new nuclear reactors, increase renewable generation four-fold, decrease electricity consumption 8% through improved end-use efficiency, and deploy 100 million plug-in electric vehicles, according to an updated “Prism and Merge” analyses from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The study, issued on Monday, says that if the sector aggressively researched, developed, demonstrated, and deployed a full technology portfolio, it could potentially reduce annual CO2 emissions in 2030 by 41% relative to a 2005 baseline.

“The full portfolio includes coal-fired generation with carbon capture and storage, renewable resources, and nuclear generation, as well as significant efficiency improvements throughout the electricity production and delivery system and reduced consumption through end-use efficiency,” EPRI said in a press release announcing the findings.
EPRI President and CEO Steven Specker, who summarized the results at EPRI’s annual Summer Seminar for electricity sector executives, regulators, and stakeholders on Monday, specified EPRI’s Prism targets. Along with 64 GW of new nuclear builds by 2030 (10 GW by 2020), the report calls for a 3% efficiency increase in the 75-GW existing fossil fuel–powered fleet, a 49% increase in coal power, and a 70% increase in power generated by natural gas combined-cycle (NGCC) plants.

This compares to a paltry 12.5 GW increase in nuclear power, a 40% increase in coal power and a 54% increase in new NGCC plants forecast for 2030 by the Energy Information Agency’s (EIA’s) Annual Electricity Outlook 2009.

EPRI said that renewable generation should also dramatically increase to 135 GW by 2030—almost double the 60 GW forecast by the EIA. Targets should also include a 90% carbon capture rate for all new coal and NGCC plants built after 2020, and retrofits for 60 GW of the existing fleet. In addition, the report calls for a 20% reduction in transmission and distribution losses by 2030.

The results indicate that the full portfolio could reduce the cost to the U.S. economy of reducing emissions by more than $1 trillion by 2050. Deployment of the full portfolio could result in an 80% increase in the real wholesale cost of electricity by 2050 relative to current costs, compared with a projected increase of more than 210% with the limited portfolio.
“If expended today these costs would represent an average of about $16,000 per household in the full portfolio scenario compared to $28,400 in a limited portfolio that excludes new nuclear generation or carbon capture and storage,” EPRI said.
EPRI published its first Prism and Merge analyses in 2007. That study laid out the U.S. electricity sector’s potential for reducing CO2 emissions and an economically optimal technology portfolio that could meet demand growth and carbon emissions constraints. The 2009 research is based on reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, consideration of new technology options, and inclusion of recent advances in technology and cost projections that take into account the impact of the current global economy.

Source: EPRI, EIA, POWERnews

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