Renewable Energy and Grid Reliability
Every day, renewable energy sources help keep the lights on in a cost-effective manner for millions of American families and businesses. This fact sheet answers questions about renewables and grid reliability.
FACT: Renewable energy helps power the grid every day with no adverse impact on grid reliability.
In many parts of the country, renewables routinely provide the majority of electricity without any reliability issues. Last year, both Iowa and South Dakota produced over 50% of their electricity from wind, while Colorado, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma produced more than 25% of their electricity from wind and solar. This widespread integration of renewables has both lowered consumers’ energy costs and helped maintain robust grid reliability.
FACT: Renewable energy is growing every day, and there is plenty of room to reliably add more.
In 2018, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded the Eastern U.S. could reliably obtain 70% of its electricity from wind and solar. A year later, the Western Flexibility Assessment concluded that 80% of the West’s electricity needs could be met by non-emitting sources by 2035 with coordinated transmission planning and improved markets in place. System operators across the country are similarly confident in their ability to integrate higher levels of pollution-free renewable power.
PJM – the largest grid operator in the U.S. – reported in December 2021 that 50% or more of its power could come from renewables with targeted market design and planning changes.
Modern grid operators have a variety of tools available to ensure supply and demand are matched at all times. Thanks to the digital revolution, wind, solar, and battery storage resources can provide many of the essential grid services operators require, often as well or better than conventional resources.
With thoughtful planning and expanded transmission, the grid can operate mostly on renewables, and do so reliably. For more information, please visit cleanpower.org/resources/gridreliability.