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City energysheds and renewable energy in the United States...

by Christopher R Derolph, Ryan A Mcmanamay, April M Morton, Sujithkumar Surendrannair
Publication Type
Journal Name
Nature Sustainability
Publication Date

Cities are powerful political and economic entities, and for many cities cultivating renewable energy penetration is sound economic policy. Many power plants in the United States will need to be replaced in the coming decades, so opportunities for renewable energy development are imminent. Although numerous cities have committed to sourcing 100% of their electricity needs from renewables, those cities represent a very small portion of cities across the United States. Due to their high energy consumption, cities have environmental impacts in areas far from their centre but are often unaware of these impacts and are thus unmotivated to undergo a transition to more sustainable energy sources. Herein we present a spatial framework for matching the supply of energy to demand across the electricity grid that allows for allocation of city energysheds. A city energyshed comprises the network of power plants that supply a given city and the amount of energy drawn from each plant. The power plant–city links revealed by energysheds allow for estimations of a city’s energy mix and environmental footprint from electricity consumption, and provide urban areas with insights into their energy sources that can catalyse renewable energy penetration for cities seeking to expand their renewable portfolio.