We review future global demand for electricity and major technologies positioned to supply it with minimal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: renewables (wind, solar, water, geothermal, and biomass), nuclear fission, and fossil power with CO capture and sequestration. We discuss two breakthrough technologies (space solar power and nuclear fusion) as exciting but uncertain additional options for low-net GHG emissions (i.e., low-carbon) electricity generation. In addition, we discuss grid integration technologies (monitoring and forecasting of transmission and distribution systems, demand-side load management, energy storage, and load balancing with low-carbon fuel substitutes). For each topic, recent historical trends and future prospects are reviewed, along with technical challenges, costs, and other issues as appropriate. Although no technology represents an ideal solution, their strengths can be enhanced by deployment in combination, along with grid integration that forms a critical set of enabling technologies to assure a reliable and robust future low-carbon electricity system.


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