Transitioning from 100 percent natural gas power to include renewable energy in a hydrocarbon economy

Transitioning from heavy carbon fuels such as coal and oil to lighter carbon fuels and renewable energy is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperatures less than 2°C above preindustrial levels. This study considers the transition from full natural gas power generation to include renewables via utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) facilities in the Caribbean small island state of Trinidad and Tobago. By using the EnergyPLAN software and hourly solar radiation and electricity data, the electric power generation and quantities of natural gas avoided for several hundred-megawatt PV facilities were estimated. The direct and opportunity savings that could be derived from the avoided natural gas is substantial for a small island state. Additionally, payback periods, avoided carbon dioxide emissions from the power generation sector and levelized costs of electricity make a strong economic case for utilityscale PV. As solar PV is intermittent, a smart energy system is suggested to provide affordable and efficient electricity generation and to include other renewable energy sources such as wind power and electric vehicles.

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