APA Releases Transmission Study: Least-Cost Optimal Expansion of the ERCOT Grid

The Advanced Power Alliance today released a new study titled, “Least-Cost Optimal Expansion of the ERCOT Grid“, researched and published by the research team at IdeaSmiths, LLC.

This analysis built and utilized a generation capacity expansion model of the ERCOT power grid to assess how the transmission system would need to evolve to deliver the least-cost grid of the future, given projections of growing electricity demand, fuel, and technology costs. The model utilized is based solely on economics and included no technology mandates, targets, subsidies, or emissions taxes. While the analysis did not specifically address transmission congestion issues, modeling points to new infrastructure that will relieve congestion while deploying Texas’s lowest-costs resources. The analysis found that:

  • The least-cost pathway for the ERCOT grid involves deploying approximately 1,700 miles of new transmission capacity with the ability to move almost 27,000 MW of power, or about 3.2 million MW-miles of new transmission, an investment roughly 2/3 the size of the original CREZ projects.
  • The majority of the upgraded transmission capacity is deployed to better connect the West and Central parts of the state, as well as shoring up connections to South Texas, where load growth and congestion are high.
  • The transmission upgrades are expected to cost about $4 billion between now and 20351.
  • These transmission upgrades would result in about $6.7 billion in production costs savings between now and 2035.
  • Along with the evolving transmission grid, the model deploys about 92 GW of additional wind, solar, energy storage, and natural gas capacity by 2035, which, in turn, deliver about 203 million more MWh of energy to meet growing demand.
  • The expanded renewable energy deployment support about $11.1 billion in new local taxes and roughly $13.2 billion in new landowner payments (over their lifetime).
  • We estimate that the level of transmission, solar, and wind deployment would support roughly 25,300 (20-year, full time equivalent) jobs during the construction and operation phases of the technology deployment.
  • The optimal grid of 2035 is cleaner and produces about 83 billion fewer lbs. of CO2, 434 million fewer lbs. of SO2, and 84 million fewer lbs. of NOx, per year.
  • The optimal grid of 2035 also consumes 25 billion less gallons of water per year and withdrawals 3.2 trillion fewer gallons of water per year than the grid of 2018.

A link to the study: Least-Cost Optimal Expansion of the ERCOT Grid