In their “Burden of Proof” paper last year in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Benjamin Heard and colleagues presented their case against 100% renewable electricity systems. As I reported at the time, they doubted the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy, questioning everything from whether renewables-based systems can survive extreme weather events with low sun and low wind, to the ability to keep the grid stable with so much variable generation. None could meet the set of feasibility and reliability criteria Heard et al. adopted. Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, and Aalborg University, Denmark, have now hit back with an analysis of hundreds of studies from across the scientific literature to answer each of the apparent issues. They claim that a shift to 100% renewables is technically feasible and economically viable. For good measure, Diesendorf and Elliston also have a sideswipe at the view that “base-load power stations are essential”, noting that “several of the simulation studies achieve reliability with zero or negligible base-load capacity” with “flexible, dispatchable power stations and storage technologies, together with demand response” being needed, rather than inflexible base-load. In my next post I will look at the base-load issue some more, and at the latest views on P2G (power-to-gas) – the idea of using renewable hydrogen for back-up, as both the above papers proposed, is looking quite good.
Physics World 14th Nov 2018 read more »