A Caltech Library Service

Opportunities for flexible electricity loads such as hydrogen production from curtailed generation

Ruggles, Tyler H. and Dowling, Jacqueline A. and Lewis, Nathan S. and Caldeira, Ken (2021) Opportunities for flexible electricity loads such as hydrogen production from curtailed generation. Advances in Applied Energy, 3 . Art. No. 100051. ISSN 2666-7924. doi:10.1016/j.adapen.2021.100051.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution.

[img] PDF - Supplemental Material
Creative Commons Attribution.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Variable, low-cost, low-carbon electricity that would otherwise be curtailed may provide a substantial economic opportunity for entities that can flexibly adapt their electricity consumption. We used historical hourly weather data over the contiguous U.S. to model the characteristics of least-cost electricity systems dominated by variable renewable generation that powered firm and flexible electricity demands (loads). Scenarios evaluated included variable wind and solar power, battery storage, and dispatchable natural gas with carbon capture and storage, with electrolytic hydrogen representing a prototypical flexible load. When flexible loads were small, excess generation capacity was available during most hours, allowing flexible loads to operate at high capacity factors. Expanding the flexible loads allowed the least-cost systems to more fully utilize the generation capacity built to supply firm loads, and thus reduced the average cost of delivered electricity. The macro-scale energy model indicated that variable renewable electricity systems optimized to supply firm loads at current costs could supply ~25% or more additional flexible load with minimal capacity expansion, while resulting in reduced average electricity costs (~10% or less capacity expansion and ~10% to 20% reduction in costs in our modeled scenarios). These results indicate that adding flexible loads to electricity systems will likely allow more full utilization of generation assets across a wide range of system architectures, thus providing new energy services with infrastructure that is already needed to supply firm electricity loads.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemData/Code
Dowling, Jacqueline A.0000-0001-5642-8960
Lewis, Nathan S.0000-0001-5245-0538
Caldeira, Ken0000-0002-4591-643X
Additional Information:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( Received 20 June 2021, Revised 23 June 2021, Accepted 23 June 2021, Available online 25 June 2021. We would like to thank Lei Duan of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Global Ecology for calculation of the solar and wind capacity factors used in this study. We would also like to thank Enrico Antonini of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Global Ecology for performing the wind and solar resource aggregation comparison. We would also like to thank the reviewers for their thorough review and thoughtful comments that resulted in an improved manuscript. This work is funded by a gift to the Carnegie Institution for Science from Gates Ventures, Inc. This work is also supported by the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research. J.A.D. acknowledges a fellowship from SoCalGas in support of Low Carbon Energy Science and Policy. Data and code availability: In the interest of transparency and reproducibility, all model code, input data, and analysis results are publicly available and documented at CRediT authorship contribution statement: Tyler H. Ruggles: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Writing - original draft, Writing - review & editing. Jacqueline A. Dowling: Formal analysis, Resources, Writing - review & editing. Nathan S. Lewis: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing - review & editing. Ken Caldeira: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing - review & editing, Funding acquisition. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gates Ventures, Inc.UNSPECIFIED
Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Southern California Gas CompanyUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Curtailment; Hydrogen; Flexible load; Electricity costs; System flexibility; Variable renewable energy
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210630-203017608
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Tyler H. Ruggles, Jacqueline A. Dowling, Nathan S. Lewis, Ken Caldeira, Opportunities for flexible electricity loads such as hydrogen production from curtailed generation, Advances in Applied Energy, Volume 3, 2021, 100051, ISSN 2666-7924,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109682
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:30 Jun 2021 21:00
Last Modified:13 Jul 2021 22:58

Repository Staff Only: item control page