Achieving an 80% Renewable Portfolio in Alaska's Railbelt: Cost Analysis

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This study examines the system-level costs and benefits of increased renewable energy deployment in the Railbelt grid, in the context of a proposed 80% renewable portfolio standard (RPS). This work studies the period from 2024 to 2040 and uses a model that simulates the planning, evolution, and operation of the power system to identify the mix of resources that maintains system reliability at the lowest electricity system cost over the period of analysis. The model tracks several reliability metrics, including the ability to serve demand during all hours of the year, even when normal power system failures occur. The model includes several measures (and associated costs) to address the variable output of renewable resources, including additional operating reserves, fuel storage, cycling of fossil plants, and additional equipment needed to maintain system stability. The Reference (least-cost) scenario results in substantial deployment of renewable energy and cost savings, reaching about 76% of Railbelt generation derived from renewables in 2040. Annual savings average about $105 M/year from 2030 to 2040. About 50% of this generation is from wind by 2040. Enforcing an 80% RPS results in about a 2% cumulative reduction in net savings. Demand is met in all scenarios, relying heavily on use of existing hydropower and fossil-fueled generators during periods of low renewable output. Meeting the increase in variability will require substantial changes in how the system is operated, with inverter-based resources providing nearly 100% of electricity during some periods.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages111
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A40-85879


  • Alaska
  • electricity
  • Railbelt
  • renewable portfolio standard


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