Robin Duquette shares a comprehensive article on decarbonization, renewable energy, and establishing a competitive market to achieve 100% clean energy.
Today’s primary approach to decarbonizing the electric grids is to add renewable capacity to offset thermal generation. For instance, many corporations have signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with renewable producers to offset partially or totally their annual electricity use with renewable energy.
However, the efficiency of renewable energy linked to the reduction of CO2 decreases considerably as soon as we exceed a certain threshold of installed capacity. Indeed, four problems impact their effectiveness:
The need to profile intermittent solar and wind production to meet demand, which today is relatively rigid.
The high uncertainty of short-term solar and wind forecasts during specific periods forces grid operators to have more responsive reserves than usual.
The strong correlation between wind power generating assets in a region exacerbates the renewable generation gaps between periods when adding more wind capacity. The case of solar is even more apparent to observe (i.e., daylight against night).
The lack of transmission capacity between zones with low residual load (i.e., demand less renewable generation) and high residual load leads to renewable generation curtailments.
In regions with a critical share of thermal generation, these four issues force an extended use of flexible but inefficient thermal power plants, resulting in marginal carbon intensity increases. Germany is an excellent example where the strong seasonality of solar and the high variance of onshore wind require the use of some coal-fired power plants for the foreseeable future. We need to address all these issues to decarbonize the electric grids adequately. That’s why organizations like Google, Microsoft, and the US federal government advocate a 24/7 carbon-free approach that consists of sourcing clean energy for every location and every hour of operation.
Key points include:
- An illustration using Texas and Great Britain
- A cash market to cost-effectively decarbonize the electric grids
- Carbon intensity targets
Read the full article, Establishing a competitive market to achieve 100% clean energy, on Medium.