Recent results from energy and emissions tracking in the US electricity system

Abstract

Electric sector emissions represent a large and growing fraction of anthropogenic emissions and should be a strong focus for environmental policy measures. In electric grids with significant penetrations of renewables, the emissions intensity of electricity varies in space and time. To encourage and guide decarbonization efforts, we need better tools to monitor the emissions embodied in electricity consumption, production and exchanges. Previous efforts resulted in a dataset for 2016 electricity and emissions at the hourly and balancing-area levels in the US electricity system. We now provide tools to make such datasets available much faster, by using an approximation for released emissions and an algorithm to automate data cleaning. As an example of how this type of new, detailed information on the electricity system can be used, we assess the current impacts of high penetrations of renewables on other grid components in the US. We demonstrate how dispatchable generation and electricity exchanges play an essential role in integrating fluctuating wind and solar generation.

Publication
Applied Energy Symposium: MIT A+B