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Open Access Publications from the University of California

US building energy efficiency and flexibility as an electric grid resource


Buildings use 75% of US electricity; therefore, improving the efficiency and flexibility of building operations could provide significant value to the rapidly changing electricity system. Here, we estimate the technical potential near- and long-term impacts of best-available building efficiency and flexibility measures on annual electricity use and hourly demand across the contiguous United States. Co-deployment of building efficiency and flexibility avoids up to 742 TWh of annual electricity use and 181 GW of daily net peak load in 2030, rising to 800 TWh and 208 GW by 2050; at least 59 GW and 69 GW of the peak reductions are dispatchable. Implementing efficiency measures alongside flexibility measures reduces the potential for off-peak load increases, underscoring limitations on load shifting in efficient buildings. Overall, however, we find a substantial building-grid resource that could reduce future fossil-fired generation needs while also reducing dependence on energy storage with increasing variable renewable energy penetration.

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