Optimal Strategies for a Cost-Effective and Reliable 100% Renewable Electric Grid

Sammy Houssainy, William Livingood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus Citations


This paper explores cost-optimal pathways to 100% renewable power systems for the U.S. building stock. We show that long-duration misalignments of supply and demand, spanning from multi-day to seasonal timescales, present a dominant challenge that must be addressed to meet real-time 100% renewable targets. While long-duration misalignments can be addressed through energy storage, we show that alternative and readily available solutions that are more cost-effective should be considered first. Through a techno-economic analysis, we identify cost-optimal, region-dependent, supply-side, and demand-side strategies that reduce, and in some U.S. regions eliminate, the otherwise substantial capacities and associated costs of long-duration energy storage. Investigated supply-side strategies include optimal mixes of renewable portfolios and oversized generation capacities. Considered demand-side strategies include building load flexibility and building energy efficiency investments. Our results reveal that building energy efficiency measures can reduce long-duration storage requirements at minimum total investment costs. In addition, oversizing and diversifying renewable generation can play a critical role in reducing storage requirements, remaining cost effective even when accounting for curtailed generation. We identify regionally dependent storage cost targets and show that for emerging long-duration energy storage innovations to achieve broad adoption, their costs will need to compete with the decreasing cost of renewables. The findings of this research are particularly important given that most long-duration storage technologies are currently either uneconomical, geologically constrained, or still underdeveloped.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number066301
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-77733


  • 100% renewable
  • demand flexibility
  • energy efficiency
  • energy storage
  • renewable energy


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