Powering Strong Communities

The Challenge with 100%

As lawmakers and communities push for increased renewable energy in the generating mix, it’s important for them to understand the technical and economic challenges that come with transitioning to a system that relies on clean resources — and why it will take time.

Generation isn't guaranteed: Renewables are variable resources, which means how much electricity gets generated day-to-day isn’t only a matter of whether the wind is blowing or sun is shining, but how much sun or wind there is

Average capacity factor, by source:

  • 35% wind
  • 24% solar

Over-building Is Necessary: Solar, wind, and other renewables accounted for 17.1% of capacity in 2021, but only 13.7% of generation. In comparison, baseload resources (i.e., coal, natural gas, nuclear) account for just over 71% of capacity, but were responsible for nearly 80% of generation in 2021

Connection Queues Are Long: More than 1,300 GW of capacity is in interconnection queues — as much as all capacity already in service in the U.S. 5 years: Median time expected for projects to wait to connect to the grid.

Technology Needs to Catch Up: Most current energy storage solutions can only provide a few hours of energy at a time. Clean baseload resources, such as advanced nuclear, are still in development.

Small Generators Also Pose Challenges: Distributed generation — such as rooftop solar — can cause high voltage swings and other stresses on electric grid equipment.

The path is very different from region to region: Some regions already have a power supply that is majority from clean resources, whereas others would need to transition most or all of their supply


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