Optimal Energy Storage Portfolio for High and Ultrahigh Carbon-Free and Renewable Power Systems

Omar Guerra, Joshua Eichman, Paul Denholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus Citations


Achieving 100% carbon-free or renewable power systems can be facilitated by the deployment of energy storage technologies at all timescales, including short-duration, long-duration, and seasonal scales; however, most current literature focuses on cost assessments of energy storage for a given timescale or type of technology. Here, we use an optimization framework with high spatial and temporal resolution to simultaneously assess the variable renewable power deployment and the optimal storage portfolio for seven independent system operators in the United States. Results indicate that achieving high (75-90%) and ultrahigh (>90%) energy mixes requires combining several flexibility options, including renewable curtailment, short-duration, long-duration, and seasonal storage. For instance, carbon-free and renewable energy mix targets of up to 80% are achieved with economic curtailment and a combination of short- and long-duration energy storage for the performance and cost assumptions used. After that, there is a point between 80% and 95% where seasonal storage becomes cost-competitive, depending on the specific power system. Moreover, our results indicate that storage-to-storage operation - one storage device used to charge another storage device - and the decoupling of charging and discharging storage power capacity are cost-effective options for the integration of high and ultrahigh shares of carbon-free or renewable power sources. Additionally, the results from this study show that an 85% carbon-free or renewable energy mix can be achieved at a cost of avoided CO2 emissions of US$66.0 per tonne or less, regardless of the power system.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5132-5146
Number of pages15
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5C00-80074


  • carbon-free
  • high and ultrahigh carbon-free
  • high and ultrahigh renewable
  • optimal energy storage
  • power system
  • renewables
  • storage portfolio


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