Low-cost, low-carbon power systems

January 2017

By 2030, the all-in cost of a new power system based almost entirely on variable renewable energy will be lower than that of a fossil fuel-based system. This is the conclusion of the research carried out by Climate Policy Initiative for the Energy Transitions Commission analyzing the flexibility challenges, costs and solutions in a near-total-renewable-based power system. Low-carbon energy sources have greater flexibility requirements, driven by their nature and technical characteristics. These flexibility requirements are in turn highly dependent on regional specifics, such as demand profile, transmission capacity, hydroelectric capacity and weather. This research paper analyzes the challenges and opportunities in four distinct regions – California, Germany, Maharashtra and the Nordic Region – and outlines the levers by which system flexibility can be achieved at low cost in a near-total-variable-renewable system.