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Location matters: The impact of renewable power on transmission congestion and emissions

Hitaj, Claudia
Energy Policy 2015 v.86 pp. 1-16
cost effectiveness, electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, power plants, prices, subsidies
Many governments offer subsidies for renewable power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector. However, most support schemes for renewable power do not take into account that emissions depend on the location of renewable and conventional power plants within an electricity grid. I simulate optimal power flow in a test grid when 4 renewable power plants connect to the grid across 24 potential sites, amounting to over 10,000 configurations. Each configuration is associated with different levels of emissions and renewable power output. I find that emission reductions vary by a factor of 7 and that curtailment due to transmission congestion is more likely when renewable power plants are concentrated in an area of the grid with low demand. Large cost savings could be obtained by allowing subsidies for renewable power to vary across locations according to abatement potential or by replacing subsidies with a price on emissions.