2021 North American Renewable Integration Study

From the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy:

The North American Renewable Integration Study (NARIS) assesses opportunities to modernize and decarbonize the North American power system through the integrated planning and operation of generation and transmission infrastructures to meet end-use demand. In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced the release of the U.S. Perspective Report and the Canadian Perspective Report.

Launched in 2016, NARIS evaluated four scenarios for North American power systems through 2050, focusing on the effects of various renewable technology cost trajectories, emission constraints, demand growth, and outcomes.

Key findings of the study are:

  1. There are multiple combinations of electricity generation, transmission, and demand that can result in 80% carbon reduction by 2050.  
  2. The future low-carbon system can balance supply and demand across a wide range of future conditions, with all generation and storage technologies contributing to resource adequacy.  
  3. Operational flexibility comes from transmission, electricity storage, and flexible operation of all generator types, including hydropower, wind, solar, and thermal generation. 
  4. While carbon targets can be achieved with conservative assumptions about the cost of wind and solar, steeper cost reduction of these technologies can lead to a faster and less costly transition to a low-carbon electricity grid. 
  5. Regional and international cooperation on electricity transmission, as envisioned by the study, can provide significant net system economic benefits through 2050.