Wind and solar to meet 85% of U.S. electricity needs, study highlights

Wind and solar power could meet around 85 percent of U.S. electricity needs, with batteries, capacity overbuilding and other storage options that could increase that figure, according to a paper published earlier on Monday in Nature Communications.

In an effort to meet most of the current energy demand in “developed, industrialized countries,” the combination of wind and solar energy is a sufficient solution. This method was researched by students at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), Tsinghua University in China, the Carnegie Institution for Science and Caltech, who looked at data on energy demand every hour for 39 years in 42 countries to determine if there were enough wind and solar resources to meet the need.

Steven Davis, a co-author of UCI’s Professor of Earth Systems Science said, “Wind and solar can meet more than 80 percent of demand in many places, without the crazy amount of storage or extra production capacity,”

During many days, some demand will be met by having zero-carbon energy storage and other non-fossil energy sources, he added, by having geophysical challenges.

Meanwhile, the paper suggests that it would be easier for larger countries near the equator to switch to fully sustainable energy sources, as they could invest more reliably on solar energy throughout the year.

In terms of countries, Germany may strive to meet most of its needs through wind and solar for the fact that it is relatively small country at high latitudes.

For them to meet international standards, many countries are reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, which is the key to reducing carbon emissions and limiting its impact. In 2020, Europe generated more electricity from renewable sources than it did from fossil fuels.

One solution would be for neighboring countries to pool their resources, Dan Tong, an assistant professor of Earth Systems Science at Tsinghua University, said.

“A system consisting of solar systems from Spain, Italy and Greece with strong winds in the Netherlands, Denmark and the Baltic region could provide a lot of continuity and reliability,” he notes.

A lot of consistency and reliability, he highlights, could be provided by a system that includes solar resources from Spain, Italy and Greece with bountiful wind available in the Netherlands, Denmark and the Baltic region.