The Role and Value of Interregional Transmission in a Decarbonized U.S. Electricity System

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Decarbonizing the U.S. energy system entails a significant expansion of wind and solar power and electrification of end-use applications. Achieving both is more efficient and less costly when interregional transmission capacity is expanded, but the fractured nature of grid planning in the United States is often a barrier to such expansion. Here, we explore the role of interregional transmission under a variety of decarbonization scenarios, using a capacity-expansion model to generate co-optimized portfolios of generation, storage, and transmission that meet decarbonization targets and electrification-driven demand. We explore portfolio and cost differences across 92 scenarios, from scenarios with limited transmission expansion to those that include a meshed high-voltage direct current (HVDC) network. In the core decarbonization scenarios, wind capacity expands by ~10x and solar by ~20x compared to 2020, hundreds of gigawatts of battery storage are deployed, and interregional transmission expands by 3-6x. Transmission expansion occurs nationwide but is concentrated between the central "wind belt" and eastern load centers. The HVDC scenarios result in hundreds of billions of dollars of savings in total system cost, demonstrating the economic benefits of interregional transmission in support of rapid decarbonization.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2023
Event22nd Wind & Solar Integration Workshop - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 26 Sep 202328 Sep 2023


Conference22nd Wind & Solar Integration Workshop
CityCopenhagen, Denmark

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-6A40-87354


  • capacity expansion
  • decarbonization
  • high-voltage dc networks
  • resource adequacy
  • transmission


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