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Renewable Distributed and Centralized Generation Dynamic’s Impact on Transmission and Storage Upgrades to Achieve Carbon Neutrality

  • Author(s): Thai, Clinton
  • Advisor(s): Brouwer, Jacob
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Decarbonizing the power generation sector will indisputably need massive amounts of generation resources and infrastructure upgrades. University of California (UC) campuses throughout the state are considered, each with their own geographical and technological characteristics. The maximum photovoltaic (PV) potential for each campus is identified, an integration strategy evaluated, and the remaining off-campus resources identified to justify a claim of 100% clean electricity. The limited on-campus photovoltaic solar potential and emissions from natural gas fueled plants, where present, require additional projects to generate renewable electricity certifications and carbon offsets. Achieving carbon neutrality for scope 1 and 2 emissions requires accounting for campus fleets and independent heat generation, both of which are relatively minor relative to combined heat and power production.

Entities like the UC that desire to achieve carbon neutrality may generate demand for hydrogen as a clean fuel, instigating large amounts of centralized solar PV plants cited in remote areas. A generalized case comparing the transmission of large amounts of renewable energy as hydrogen in pipelines is compared to the traditional pathway of electricity delivery through power lines. For scenarios in which minimal energy storage is necessary, the electric pathway yields a lower system cost. However, if the state reaches high renewable penetration levels, power from storage must be available for more hours of the year. In this case, the lower cost of storage from geological hydrogen storage and the innate storage capability of pipelines suggest a lower system cost for hydrogen production and delivery despite the lower pathway efficiency.

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