Our Work Breakthrough Energy Grid Modeling

Mapping a clean energy future

As countries around the world eye the broad, rapid deployment of renewable energy and invest to make energy systems more resilient in the face of climate change, it has never been more important to understand our energy grids and the best pathways to improving them.

That’s why Breakthrough Energy has assembled a team of scientists and technologists to develop the tools and find the best evidence-based approaches to modeling the grid.

Our first publicly available tool, the Breakthrough Energy Grid Modeling Project—and its accompanying report, A 2030 United States Macro Grid—were developed in response to one of the most significant challenges on the path to clean energy: intermittency.

A regional grid gives states limited options for achieving their 2030 clean-energy goals. For example, the East Coast of the United States has limited access to the abundant solar power in the Southwest, and states on both coasts are unable to easily utilize wind power generated in the Plains. By unlocking the geographical diversity of renewable energy across the United States, we can maximize the benefit of our abundant clean energy resources.

The report shows that by making targeted upgrades to connect regional electrical grids and upgrading their transmission capacity, states will have an easier path to achieving 2030 clean energy goals. States without 2030 goals will begin to use more clean energy by default. A Macro Grid would also prevent electrical crises like what happened in Texas in 2021 (see our 2021 paper “An open-source extendable model and corrective measure assessment of the 2021 Texas power outage”) by giving states access to more diverse energy sources—an important change as the United States experiences more climate-related weather events.

Demand for electricity keeps increasing, as does American generation capacity. We need smart strategies and tools to ensure that our investments in transmission infrastructure help us keep pace.

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