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Electricity - Reinventing Fire technology inputs 8 Items
There are currently 308 GW of coal-fired capacity and 185 GW of gas-fired capacity in operation in the United States. Assuming normal operating lives, 95% of the coal capacity and 99% of the gas capacity will be retired by 2050.
Any electricity future dependent on significant coal or gas resources brings with it the added risk of fuel availability. The McKelvey diagram is a useful visualization for classifying resources by their degrees of geologic assurance and economic recoverability.
scenario explores a U.S. grid relying on nuclear power for 36% of annual generation. The required ramp-up of nuclear power would generate around 160,000 tons of nuclear waste over the next 40 years.
Considering budding technologies that could be commercially available in the future, the potential U.S. generation capacity from renewables is overwhelming. Wave and tidal generators, offshore deep-water wind farms, and enhanced geothermal power (which uses the Earth's heat but doesn’t require a natural steam source) are all in development and represent a huge potential energy resource.
Buildings or industrial facilities with both heating loads and electricity demand can typically benefit from combined heat and power (CHP) generation. This technology allows both heat and electricity to be produced at a marginal cost less than that of both produced separately.
Buildings or industrial facilities that operate combined heat and power (CHP) generators purchase a fuel (typically natural gas) and use it to generate electricity onsite, capturing the waste heat for the facility’s heating demands. Whether or not the operator can generate electricity cheaper than they can buy it is dependent on the current costs of fuel and electricity as well as the efficiency of their unit, and is quantified by the spark spread.
By 2050, 50% of the U.S. vehicle fleet will be electrified —more than 150 million cars and light trucks in all. With an average battery pack size of 18.4 kWh, this would amount to nearly 2,900 GWh of energy storage capacity. The addition of such a large and potentially unpredictable load could present problems for grid management if electric vehicle charging is not handled effectively.
There is some uncertainty in the reliability of the U.S. electricity system in a “business-as-usual” case. Although the U.S. electricity grid has a proven track record with conventional generation mixes, outages and grid disturbances are on the rise.