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Spatial variation of emissions impacts due to renewable energy siting decisions in the Western U.S. under high-renewable penetration scenarios

  • Blumsack, Seth
  • Xu, Jianhua
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    One of the policy goals motivating programs to increase renewable energy investment is that renewable electric generation will help reduce emissions of CO2 as well as emissions of conventional pollutants (e.g., SO2 and NOx). As a policy instrument, Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) encourage investments in wind, solar and other generation sources with the goal of reducing air emissions from electricity production. Increased electricity production from wind turbines is expected to displace electricity production from fossil-fired plants, thus reducing overall system emissions. We analyze the emissions impacts of incremental investments in utility-scale wind power, on the order of 1GW beyond RPS goals, in the Western United States using a utility-scale generation dispatch model that incorporates the impacts of transmission constraints. We find that wind investment in some locations leads to slight increases in overall emissions of CO2, SO2 and NOx. The location of wind farms influences the environmental impact by changing the utilization of transmission assets, which affects the overall utilization of power generation sources and thus system-level emissions. Our results suggest that renewable energy policy beyond RPS targets should be carefully crafted to ensure consistency with environmental goals.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421510008712
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 11 ()
    Pages: 6962-6971

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:11:p:6962-6971
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    1. Seth Blumsack & Lester B. Lave & Marija Ilic, 2007. "A Quantitative Analysis of the Relationship Between Congestion and Reliability in Electric Power Networks," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 73-100.
    2. Palmer, Karen & Burtraw, Dallas, 2005. "Cost-effectiveness of renewable electricity policies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 873-894, November.
    3. Ryan Wiser & Kevin Porter & Robert Grace, 2005. "Evaluating Experience with Renewables Portfolio Standards in the United States," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 237-263, April.
    4. Wallace E. Tyner & Farzad Taheripour, 2007. "Renewable Energy Policy Alternatives for the Future," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1303-1310.
    5. Wiser, Ryan & Bolinger, Mark, 2007. "Can deployment of renewable energy put downward pressure on natural gas prices?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 295-306, January.
    6. Carolyn Fischer, 2010. "Renewable Portfolio Standards: When Do They Lower Energy Prices?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 101-120.
    7. Pablo Benitez & Lilianna Dragulescu & G. Cornelis van Kooten, 2006. "The Economics of Wind Power with Energy Storage," Working Papers 2006-02, University of Victoria, Department of Economics, Resource Economics and Policy Analysis Research Group.
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