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With renewable energy storage, conventional utilities face a difficult future

Electricity’s inevitable renewables revolution, Eco Business, 5 June 14 “…..Disruption in store Storage multiplies the value of renewable electricity thereby increasing demand, which in turn will create a positive feedback for more storage. Disruption of incumbent business models and energy markets is likely to increase as innovation drives down storage costs. Widespread storage, such as batteries, will transform renewable electricity in two ways. One, allow consumers to use renewable electricity power when they need it most, not just when the sun shines or the wind blows. Two, provide consumers and entrepreneurs with the capability to make and trade electricity without conventional utilities. Storage highlights the profound physical differences between renewable energy and conventional energy. To simplify, conventional energy, be it ore, oil or gas, is a concentrated finite stock flowing at a rate set by how much we spend on digging and drilling. Renewable energy, like solar radiation and wind, streams freely and diffuses at variable rates ultimately set by the sun. Those characteristics mean swapping out gas-turbine generators for solar modules or wind turbines watt-for-watt would result in lower electricity output. Thus, to replace 4.2 terawatts of carbon power plants, and meet rising electricity demand, will take several times as much capacity in terms of generators using solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. However, capital costs, which as noted are falling, for renewables are offset by zero fuel costs over the operating lifetime and zero emissions which avoid social costs of harm to health, climate and ecosystems. Such costs are harming households and firms alike, triggering shifts in perceptions which favour the characteristics of renewable electricity and distributed generation. Already, the increasing competitiveness and preference for renewable energy has hit conventional utilities, contributing to losses of €500 billion in Europe in recent years. David Crane, chief executive of America’s top power producer NRG, warns conventional utilities face irrelevance. Their future looks difficult. They must switch to renewable energy and simultaneously compete against the expanding army of millions of people turning their homes and firms into power producers. Civic groups and cooperatives are acting locally to bankroll renewable power or take over grids in communities across Europe and the US.http://www.eco-business.com/opinion/electricitys-inevitable-renewable-revolution/

June 6, 2014 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, energy storage

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