Renewables for industryProject Comparison of Dispatchable Renewable Electricity Options
This study identifies and compares commercially available options for providing dispatchable electricity generation from renewable sources. It examines the sensitivity of energy cost to configuration and the applicability of various technologies to different roles.
- There are multiple affordable options for firm dispatchable renewable electricity generation over all timescales at one and a half to two times the cost of variable renewable energy (VRE) when used regularly.
- The dispatchable renewable options of; PV or wind driven batteries, pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) or hydrogen; concentrating solar thermal; bioenergy and geothermal all have a role to play. There is no single winner, and at each timescale there are multiple options that fall within a general least-cost band.
- The likely least-cost future electricity system solution is a mix of both variable and dispatchable renewable technologies, durations and locations with an average cost of electricity considerably lower than dispatchable generation alone.
- Additional, long term energy reserves can be added to a generation system to ensure generation in critical periods at two to three times the cost of VRE alone in critical periods.
- The cost of electricity from dispatchable renewable generation is comparable with estimates for new build gas while avoiding the associated fuel and carbon price risks.
- For a small number of events per year, emergency demand response is more cost effective than a dedicated dispatchable renewable generation option used infrequently.
- A level of short-term firmness could be obtained cost effectively during high VRE generation periods by curtailing and controlling output levels from PV or wind.
- Costs are likely to continue to fall in real terms for all renewable energy technologies in correlation with their growth in global deployment. This will improve the competitive position of dispatchable renewables compared to gas. The other findings above are likely to remain valid as this occurs.
- Readily achievable growth rates of around 25% per year in dispatchable renewables could keep pace with coal retirements and enable an orderly transition to a large share of renewable energy.