Why Don’t We Use More Renewable Energy Sources

Why Don’t We Use More Renewable Energy Sources – As wind and solar power become cheaper and their share of electricity generation increases, skeptics of these technologies are dispelling many myths about renewable energy and the power grid. Myth from this: Relying on renewable energy sources will make electricity supply unreliable.

Last summer, some commentators argued that the cuts in California were actually due to the “fix” of renewable energy sources, when the main causes were probably a combination of extreme heat waves caused by climate change, faulty planning and lack of resilience. . Sufficient electricity generation and storage resources. During Texas’ brutal winter, Gov. Greg Abbott blamed wind and solar for the state’s massive grid failure, which is larger than California. In fact, renewables exceeded grid operator estimates in 90 percent of the outages, and gas-fired power plants fell by more than a fifteenth in the rest. Instead, other causes, such as natural gas blackouts due to poorly worn power plants and frozen equipment, led to the majority of power outages in the state.

Why Don’t We Use More Renewable Energy Sources

(energy conversion) policy changes from fossil fuels and nuclear energy to efficient and renewable use. The newly elected German government plans to step up the first and complete the second, but some critics have warned that Germany is working “against the limits of renewable resources”.

The Paradox Of Declining Renewable Costs And Rising Electricity Prices

In fact, it is entirely possible to maintain a reliable electricity system based on renewable energy sources, together with a combination of other tools, including advanced energy management and storage methods. A clearer understanding of how to reliably manage electricity supplies is critical, as climate threats require a rapid transition to renewable sources such as solar and wind power. This transition has been accelerated by falling costs—Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that solar and wind are the cheapest sources for 91 percent of the world’s electricity—but is hampered by misinformation and myths.

To follow the cliché, “In God we trust; others bring data”, it is worth looking at grid reliability statistics in countries with high levels of renewable energy. The indicator most often used to describe the reliability of the grid is what is known as “System Average Input Index” (SAIDI). The metric is the average duration of power outages experienced by each customer in a year. According to this metric, Germany has one of the most reliable grids in Europe and in the world, where renewable energy sources provide almost half of the country’s electricity. In 2020 SAIDI was only 0.25 hours in Germany. Only Liechtenstein (0.08 hours) and Finland and Switzerland (0.2 hours) did better in Europe, where electricity generation is 38 percent renewable (than 29 percent in the world) in 2020. Both depend more on nuclear power. Dependent countries such as France (0.35 hours) and Sweden (0.61 hours) are worse for several reasons.

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The United States, where renewable energy and nuclear power each provide about 20 percent of electricity, had five times the outage rate of Germany – 1.28 hours in 2020. Since 2006, Germany’s share of renewables in electricity generation has nearly quadrupled, while the outage rate has remained almost constant. fifty fifty Likewise, Texas’ grid became more stable as wind capacity was installed from 2007 to 2020. Today, Texas produces more wind power — about one-fifth of its total electricity — than any other state in the United States.

Legend no. 2: Countries like Germany should continue to rely on fossil fuels to stabilize the grid and support variable wind and solar power.

Flawed Renewable Energy Credits Are Derailing Climate Efforts

Again, official data says otherwise. Between 2010 – a year before the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan – and 2020, Germany’s fossil fuel production fell by 130.9 terawatt hours and its nuclear production by 76.3 terawatt hours. These were more than compensated by an increase in generation from renewable sources (149.5 terawatt hours) and energy savings that reduced consumption by 38 terawatt hours in 2019, before the pandemic also decimated economic activity. By 2020, Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 42.3 percent below 1990 levels, surpassing the 2007 target of 40 percent. Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector alone fell from 315 million tons in 2010 to 185 million tons in 2020.

As the percentage of electricity produced in Germany from renewable sources has steadily increased, the reliability of its grid has improved and coal burning and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen significantly.

In Japan, following the meltdown of several reactors in Fukushima, more than 40 nuclear reactors were shut down permanently or indefinitely without significantly increasing fossil fuel production or greenhouse gas emissions; electricity economy and renewable energy almost make all losses, despite policies that put pressure on renewables.

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Legend no. 3: Since solar and wind power can only be produced when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, they cannot be the basis for a grid that must provide electricity 24/7 all year round.

California Is Breaking Renewable Energy Records, But Fossil Fuels Aren’t Fading

While variable output is a challenge, it is neither new nor particularly difficult to manage. No type of power plant operates 24/7, 365 days a year, and running a network requires constantly managing variable demand. Even without solar and wind power (it tends to work reliably in different weather and seasons,

Seasonal changes in water availability and increased drought will reduce electricity generation from hydroelectric dams. Nuclear plants must be shut down for refueling or maintenance, and large fossil and nuclear power plants typically go offline about 7 percent to 12 percent of the time, some more. . Fuel supply to a coal plant can be interrupted by a train derailment or a bridge failure. A nuclear power plant or fleet can shut down unexpectedly for safety reasons, as it was Japan’s largest power plant in 2007 to 2009. This has increased to 115.5 days in 2020, where French nuclear power plants produce less than 65 percent of electricity they can theoretically be produced. When you compare expected performance with actual performance, nuclear power could even be said to be the most intermittent source of electricity in France in 2020. .

Climate and weather-related factors have resulted in several shutdowns of nuclear power plants that have become seven times more frequent in the past decade. Even normally stable nuclear production can fail suddenly and permanently, as happened in Japan after the Fukushima disaster or in the northeastern United States after the 2003 regional power outage that led to a sudden shutdown that caused nine reactors to produce almost no power. took days and almost two. week to return to full production.

Bungalow Solar Farm in South Australia is where the grid ran almost entirely on renewable sources for days. Lincoln Fowler / Alamy Pictures

The Dark Side Of Solar Power

Therefore, all energy sources will become unusable at one time or another. Grid management must deal with this reality as well as fluctuating demand. The influx of greater amounts of renewable energy does not change this fact, even if the way they deal with volatility and uncertainty changes. Modern grid operators emphasize diversity and flexibility rather than nominally stable but less flexible “base load” generation sources. Diversified renewable portfolios do not fail as large, persistent or unpredictable as large thermal plants.

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The purpose of an electrical grid is not only to transmit and distribute electricity as demand changes, but also to supplement non-functional and operating facilities, i.e. managing outages in traditional fossil and nuclear plants. Similarly, but easier and often at a lower cost, the grid can quickly support the predictable fluctuations in wind and solar photovoltaic and other renewable energy, other types or elsewhere, or both. This has become easier as it is more precise nowadays. forecast weather and wind speed, thereby providing better forecasts of variable renewable energy generation. Local or on-site renewables are more resilient as they bypass the grid where almost all energy failures originate. And modern power electronics have seriously fed South Australia’s billion-watt grid for days with solar and wind only, without coal, hydro, nuclear and especially the 4.4 percent of natural gas production now required for the grid. regulator.

Most discussions of renewable energy focus on batteries and other electrical storage technologies to reduce variability. This is not surprising because batteries are becoming cheaper fast and are widely used. At the same time, new storage technologies of various types continue to emerge; The US Department of Energy’s Global Energy Storage Database lists 30 types currently deployed or under construction. In the meantime, there are plenty of gas-free and cheaper ways to deal with variable renewable energy sources besides giant batteries.

First and foremost is energy efficiency, which reduces demand, especially during peak usage periods. More efficient buildings need less heating or cooling and change temperatures more slowly, so they can operate at their own thermal capacity longer and maintain comfort with less energy, especially during peak load periods.

The Importance Of Renewable Energies

The second option is elasticity of demand or demand response; where utilities compensate electricity customers who reduce their on-demand usage.

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