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01.02.2013 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 1/2013

Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy 1/2013

Methodology for examining potential technology breakthroughs for mitigating CO2 and application to centralized solar photovoltaics

Zeitschrift:
Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy > Ausgabe 1/2013
Autoren:
Daniel H. Loughlin, William H. Yelverton, Rebecca L. Dodder, C. Andrew Miller

Abstract

Aggressive reductions in US greenhouse gas emissions will require radical changes in how society generates and uses energy. Technological breakthroughs will be necessary if we are to make this transition cost effectively. With limited resources, understanding the breakthrough potential of various alternative technology options will be critical. One common approach for comparing technology options is via their relative levelized cost of electricity. This measure does not account for many of the complexities of the landscape in which the technologies compete, however. As an alternative, we describe the use of an energy system model within a nested parametric sensitivity analysis. The approach is applied to examine the breakthrough potential of a specific class of technology, centralized solar photovoltaics (CSPV). We define a “breakthrough” as being a tangible reduction in the system-wide cost of meeting a CO2 mitigation target. As “tangible” is a subjective term, we characterize the relationship between technology cost reductions and system-wide cost reductions for several mitigation targets. The results illustrate the importance of considering contextual factors in evaluating and comparing technologies. For example, the critical role that fuel switching and vehicle electrification play in mitigation scenarios is shown to affect the competition between CSPV and baseload technologies for market share. This breakthrough analysis approach can be applied to other technologies and is expected to be useful in assessing and comparing breakthrough opportunities across the energy system, including both energy production and use.

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