How Low Can Solar & Storage Go? A Price Analysis Of Getting To A Carbon Free Grid

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Translation: Yes to the People, No to the Carbon. People across the US are pushing to shut down coal plants (Image: Crawford Plant Project)

UC Berkeley and Gridlab have published a new report that challenges previous plans to decarbonize the grid. With the latest renewable energy and battery prices, the US can reach 90% clean electricity by 2035, compared to 2050, by installing 70 GW of new renewable energy infrastructure each year. If the accelerated timeline wasn’t already good enough, it also won’t cost consumers more money.

The report outlines a future where all coal plants are retired by 2035, as well as no new natural gas plants. Integrating battery storage with existing hydropower, nuclear, and natural gas will enable this transition. Energy from wind, solar, and batteries would provide 70% of annual generation, and hydropower and nuclear would provide the remaining 20%. As a result, electricity would be cheaper.

The current price of renewable energy and batteries will spur innovation in the sector. Innovation will leader to more efficiency and optimization of technology and resources. We are likely to see enhancements to the entire energy pipeline, from generation to distribution. So far in 2020, we have seen growth in battery storage, for instance Form Energy’s 150 MWh battery.

Now, before we celebrate, we must also be aware that policy is still needed to reach these goals. Energy Innovation published a piece that outlines these policies. A federal clean electricity standard followed by policy reforms would support the ambitious goals. If all goes according to plan, we would reduce economy-wide emissions by 27%. And the cherry on top of all of this is that we would see an increase of at least 500,000 jobs each year.

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