Across the United States, 120 cities, 11 counties and 6 cities have made commitments to transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Leelanau County in Northwest Michigan has a small community comprising approximately 20,000 people and Northport Energy asserted a target to transition the electricity consumption for the entire county to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, with the use of wind energy, solar energy and battery storage system. Potential for renewable electricity generation in the county was estimated by using geospatial data about land use in the county and the available solar and wind energy resources. 35% of the county land areas has a Class II wind power and 18% has a Class III. Annual solar energy resources have a potential of 3.75 to 4.0 kWh/m2 per day. Considering land use and environmental concerns, 14.1% of land area (95.41 km2 , or 23,576 acres) is suitable for wind turbine installations, while 31.5% (213.41 km2 or 52,735 acres) is suitable for solar panel installations. Electricity consumption predictions were made for the year 2040 by analyzing the electricity consumption patterns for 2018 based on data provided by the utilities operating in the county. Impacts of Electric Vehicle Adoption and Low Demand Growth were accounted for in scenario analysis. Size of the Battery system was estimated based on the maximum energy flow required to be handled by energy storage. Fraction of demand met, energy sold to the grid, and economic considerations were taken into account to ensure the feasibility of the 100% goal. While there is potential for deployment of solar and wind energy generation to meet 100 percent electricity demand within the County, it is essential to consider the implications of capital and operating expenditures and surplus electricity generation in order to decide the most optimum combination of resources. Six combinations of solar photovoltaics, wind turbines and battery storage were evaluated which met 88.9-100 percent of the annual electricity consumption with renewable sources. Total renewable electricity generation ranges between 0.26-1.32 TWh/year. For these combinations, the capital expenditure, operating costs and net annual revenue range between $0.129 - $0.443 billion, $60 - $163 million per year, and $6 - $157 million per year respectively. Levelized cost of electricity for the three 100-percent renewable electricity scenarios was found to be in the range of $0.194-0.224/kWh.
CSS Publication Number:
100 percent renewable electricity
electric vehicle adoption
renewable resource assessment
April 30, 2019
Liu, Leona, and Abhijeet Walchale. (2019) “100 percent Renewable Electricity Plan for Leelanau County, Michigan.” Master’s Project, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-55.