Smart Energy International spoke with a scientist based in Scotland who shared the following – potentially unwelcome – advise and Dos and Donts for utilities and governments investing in energy storage in order to build a carbon-free energy system.
Here is what the scientist had to say:
- DO build a grid that never has to import any power but which sometimes has a surplus of renewable energy to export to neighbouring grids.
- Ease the transition to clean energy with government investment in good renewable energy alternatives that poor people can afford to switch to; and just impose enough carbon taxes to encourage consumers to decide to switch as and when it is convenient for them to do so.
- DO supply your customer gas grid with bio-methane and synthetic methane (for example, produced by combining hydrogen produced from electrolysis with carbon dioxide from bio-gas using the Sabatier reaction) – which renewable energy methane will allow existing customer gas appliances to work as is.
- DO elect or appoint government energy ministers who are numerate and who attend to details because having the right support from government – the right encouragement, the right incentives, the right public investment in the Green New Deal – are all very useful for building a 100% renewable energy grid to serve the whole country, state, city, region etc.
- DO employ system design engineers who can use Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools and the recommendations from computer modelling to design grid systems which can smooth and balance intermittent generation from wind and solar farms by installing a sufficient capacity of energy storage and renewable energy back-up power to provide power on demand, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, regardless of weather conditions.
- DO use a CAD tool to calculate the required capacities of all the components in your planned 100% renewable energy grid system.
- Calculate from your latitude or from local knowledge what your preferred mix of wind and solar energy generation will be; calculate the capacity of wind and solar farms with knowledge of local capacity factors; calculate how much energy storage capacity is needed and calculate how much back-up power you will have and will need.
The scientist is offering a free, on-line Computer-Aided Design tool. Click here for more information.
- Don’t ask a battery salesman to tell your country, state, city, region etc. what capacity of energy storage your system will need to match your size of wind and solar farms. A battery salesman is selfishly going to try to sell you the biggest battery which you can afford. The battery salesman will assure your accountant that [that] the biggest-you-can-afford battery is allegedly “plenty big enough for the purpose” but in reality the battery salesman’s sole selfish purpose is to make the sale.
- Don’t waste your money on the “biggest ever” battery because no matter how big the battery is, it will often go flat and then your grid or micro-grid will still need back-up generation from either hydro-electricity, conventional or pumped, power-to-gas (making hydrogen fuel gas from electrolysis of water), bio-fuels or synthetic fuels made using renewable energy.
- Don’t kid yourself that you have allegedly “built a 100% renewable energy grid” if at times you have to import power from a neighbouring grid which is generating from their own fossil-fuel power stations.
- Don’t trust the fossil-fuel industry smoke and mirrors scam of “carbon, capture and storage” because CCS-LEAK cannot guarantee to store carbon dioxide gas for ever and there will be a profit motive for unscrupulous commercial operators to leak carbon dioxide for free (off the books) rather than store carbon dioxide at great expense.
- Don’t “pay cash for ash” – as one Northern Ireland renewable energy support scheme did whereby the subsidy paid to those burning biomass was more than the cost of the fuel – so the more biomass the consumers burned, the more money they made. What a waste!
- Don’t be in a rush to knock down your legacy fossil-fuel power stations because they can often be cost-effectively adapted to burn bio-fuels or synthetic fuels made using renewable energy and can provide useful dispatchable back-up power in all weathers.
- Don’t vote for climate-change deniers.
- Don’t quit until you have weaned your electricity and gas grids off fossil fuel as the first steps in the transition to 100% renewable energy and net-zero global warming emissions – because the cleaner, greener world we all want to live in will be well worth it.