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Incredibly important finding on renewable energy

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The big complaint people have about renewable energy, or at least, the big complaint that has some merit, is that renewables, such as wind and solar, are intermittent and to varying degrees, unpredictably intermittent. This makes it hard to match demand for electricity to supply. Some aspects of this argument are overstated. For example, a steady supply (the same potential power all the time, every minute of the day) can be a bug as well as a feature. If every electron of electricity we used came from nuclear power plants, there would be a problem because our demand fluctuates and you can’t vary the output of a nuclear plant. Some of the arguments are inaccurate. For example, it is not true that a nuclear power plant produces the same exact amount of electricity all the time. Nuke plants often reduce production unexpectedly. If there is some sort of problem, they partly shut down. And, of course, the shut down for refueling. So they are not perfect.

The problem if intermittent and less than ideally predictable supply can be addressed a number of ways. One is big huge batteries, which are costly and otherwise problematic. There are various other storage methods using water and air and things that can hold heat or “hold cold.” And so on. Then, of course, there is the grid. If it is sunny one place and cloudy a different place, electricity can be shunted between.

Still, we often see arguments suggesting that these methods of matching supply and demand of electricity are problematic in one way or another.

A new research project, just out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, addresses these issues and gives great hope to the use of 100% non-nuclear renewables to meet energy demands. The paper is by Mark Jacobson, Mark Delucchi, Mary Cameron, and Bethany Frew, and is titled “Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes.”

Here is the abstract and the statement of significance from the paper:

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2015/12/04/incredibly-important-finding-on-renewable-energy/

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