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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
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Cities are powerful political and economic entities, and for many, fostering renewable energy penetration is sound economic policy. Shifting a city’s renewable portfolio is difficult and influenced by many disparate governance entities and policy sectors. Additionally, energy flows on the transmission grid change continuously, making it a challenge to trace consumption to its generation source. Here we present a spatial framework for balancing the electricity grid that allows for allocation of energy production to cities, i.e., energysheds, or sinks in the grid caused by high electricity demand in urban areas. The power plant-city links revealed by energyshed allocations 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 catalyze renewable energy penetration for cities seeking to expand their renewable portfolio. Our findings show that energysheds are geographically diffuse, and thus local generation in combination with the use of offset purchases is a viable option for cities seeking to increase their renewable energy sources.