When Will We See Affordable Renewable Energy Storage Technology?
It’s frequently said that variable wind and solar power endanger reliable electricity supply; and so we need either “baseload” fossil fuel-burning power plants, or breakthroughs in bulk storage. That’s a myth according to the creator of this short video.
Consider that although it is true that the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine, these things are very predictable using today’s weather simulations and satellite data. We can predict with a high degree of accuracy how much wind energy and solar energy will be available tomorrow for a given location.
Is it true that we will always need nuclear and fossil fuel generation available to able to back up our renewable energy installations? Solar pv and wind turbines are the most variable of all renewable energy technologies. Others such a solar thermal with heat storage, geothermal,biomass and biofuel are not at all variable.
Given the nature of our electric grid which is designed to align power demand to power supply, this same grid can be used to balance all of these types of renewable energy, that are viable technologies available today. This does not include new renewable technologies that are being developed such as wave energy which is not at all variable and tidal which is periodic and very predictable, or solar fuel which may be a complete game changer.
So it seems that we have the ability right now to greatly increase the amount of renewable energy we use, without waiting for large energy storage systems to become economically viable. What we lack is the will to do so.
Gordon’s expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.