MapRE News:

RE Zoning Tools update v1.6 available

We updated Script Tool B-3 (Calculate project area attributes) to include the ability to apply an annual degradation of generation output (e.g., 1% annual degradation rate) and fixed O&M cost escalation (e.g., 2% annual cost increase) in LCOE calculations.  If an annual degradation rate is applied, then the annual electricity generation output (“egen” field) will be an estimated average across the lifetime of the power plant.


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Geospatial and techno-economic analysis of wind and solar resources in India published in Renewable Energy

Applying the MapRE methods and tools, we identified abundant renewable resources in India — 850–3400 GW for onshore wind, 1300–5200 GW for utility-scale solar PV, 160–620 GW for CSP with 6 h-storage. However, these resources are concentrated in the western and southern regions. Deriving capital costs from India’s 2017–18 auction prices, we estimated the 5th and 95th percentiles of levelized costs of energy generation ranging from USD 47–52 per MWh for solar PV and USD 42–62 per MWh for wind. On a levelized basis, these costs are competitive with those of coal-based generation, the dominant fossil-fuel technology in India. 

We found more than 80% of wind resources that coincide with agricultural lands where dual land use strategies could encourage wind development and avoid loss of agriculturally productive land. Approximately 90% of CSP resources and 80% of solar PV resources are in areas experiencing high water stress, which can severely restrict deployment unless water requirements are minimized. Finally, we found co-location potential of at least 110 GW of wind and 360 GW of solar PV, which together could meet 35% of electricity demand in 2030.

Our paper, published in Renewable Energy 2019, can be accessed here with subscription to Elsevier. If you don’t have access to the journal, please send us an email to get a copy of the article. The output data is published on Mendeley and is available for download. 

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Renewable energy alternatives to mega hydropower: A case study of Inga 3 for Southern Africa

Site of the Inga 3 dam and larger Grand Inga complex on the Congo river. 
Image credit: International Rivers

Grace Wu, Ana Mileva, and Ranjit Deshmukh used MapRE and a grid simulation model, GridPath, to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of renewable energy alternatives to Inga 3, a 4.8-GW hydropower project on the Congo River, to serve the energy needs of the host country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the main buyer, South Africa. We found that a mix of wind, solar photovoltaics, and some natural gas is more cost-effective than Inga 3 to meet future demand except in scenarios with pessimistic assumptions about wind technology performance. In our scenarios, the effect of Inga 3 deployment on South African power system cost ranged from an increase of ZAR 4300 (US$ 330) million annually to savings of ZAR 1600 (US$ 120) million annually by 2035. But a cost overrun as low as 20%, which is very likely given past empirical data on hydropower dams, made the Inga 3 scenarios more expensive in all sensitivity cases. Including time and cost overruns and losses in transmission from DRC to South Africa made Inga 3 an even less attractive investment. Through a MapRE analysis of the DRC, we found abundant renewable energy potential: 60 GW of solar photovoltaic and 0.6–2.3 GW of wind located close to transmission infrastructure have levelized costs less than US$ 0.07 per kWh, or the anticipated cost of Inga 3 to residential consumers.

The paper is published in Environmental Research Letters 2018 and free to download.

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Paper just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

“Strategic siting and regional grid interconnections key to low-carbon futures in African countries”

Our peer-reviewed paper details siting strategies that reduce the economic costs, risks, and environmental impact of wind and solar deployment in Eastern and Southern Africa. It finds that ‘no-regrets’–highly accessible, low-cost, and low-impact–sites are plentiful, and international interconnections needed to encourage their development across the region. The study encompasses and builds on our earlier work with IRENA by exploring wind site selection scenarios in Southern Africa.

The paper is open access (free to non-subscribers) and can be viewed and downloaded on the PNAS webpage here.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley issued press releases about the paper. Check them out here:
LBNL: The Economic Case for Wind and Solar Energy in Africa
UC Berkeley: Renewable energy has robust future in much of Africa

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