Quantifying Avoided Fuel Use and Emissions from Solar Photovoltaic Generation in the Western United States

Paul Denholm, Robert M. Margolis, James M. Milford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus Citations

Abstract

The electric power system in the Western United States was simulated to evaluate the potential of solar photovoltaics (PV) in reducing fossil-fuel use and associated emissions. The simulations used a utility production cost model to evaluate a series of PV penetrations where up to 10% of the region's electricity is derived from PV. The analysis focused on California, which uses gas for a large fraction of its generation and Colorado, which derives most of its electricity from coal. PV displaces gas and electricity imports almost exclusively in California, with a displacement rate of about 6000-9000 kJ per kWh of PV energy generated. In Colorado, PV offsets mostly gas at low penetration, with increasing coal displacement during nonsummer months and at higher penetration. Associated reductions in CO 2, N0 X, and S0 2 emissions are also calculated.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-670-43179

Keywords

  • fuel and emissions reduction
  • grid analysis
  • production cost model
  • solar pv

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