The variability of renewable energy sources such as wind, often cited as the sector’s Achilles’ heel, does not have to be a problem, according to a new report from the National Gridational Grid, which owns and operates the electricity network in the
UK, says that increased wind generation and large nuclear power
stations are manageable and can be accommodated.
renewable energy claim that the intermittency of sources such as wind
and solar will require significant – and potentially costly – balancing
in the form of storage or extra back-up generation.
which is now open for industry consultation, says new network
technology could play a strong role in managing renewable energy
variability instead of back-up generation alone.
comprehensive view yet of how Britain could balance electricity supply
and demand in the future moves the debate firmly beyond the simplistic
view that we just need more back-up generation,” says Chris Bennett of
Smart meters and grid would allow electricity
demand to be actively managed – for example by automatically shifting
demand to off-peak times. Smart grid technology could allow fridges and
freezers in homes and businesses to turn on and off throughout the day
to save energy.
Electric vehicles could also be used as a storage option or another block of demand that can be moved to off-peak times.
report also cites other new technologies such as batteries and
supercapacitors, which could make it much easier to store large
quantities of electricity, and even large flywheels or compressed air.
interconnection with the rest of Europe could also have advantages,
says the report, by allowing intermittency from wind power to be
balanced over a much larger area.
Environmental and renewable energy groups have welcomed the report.
great that National Grid has produced a report that shows that
variability need not be seen as a stumbling block in the journey
towards a low carbon power sector,” says Keith Allott of WWF-UK.
knocks on the head the myth that large amounts of capacity of “hot”
standby is the only way to deal with the variability of wind,” adds
Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association.