The top five coolest ways to integrate renewable energy into the grid  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

Grist has a post on a recent IEA report into enabling grids powered by renewables - The top five coolest ways to integrate renewable energy into the grid.

Intermittent renewables at high penetrations will bring new challenges for the grid. But how big will they be? And is it true that wind and solar will necessarily need storage or natural gas back-up at high levels?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) wanted to know, so it modeled a variety of high-penetration scenarios in eight geographic regions around the world. Hugo Chandler, a senior policy analyst with the IEA, explains the organization's findings to Climate Progress:
Variability is not just some new phenomenon in grid management. What we found is that renewable energy is not fundamentally different. The criticisms of renewables often neglect the complementarities between different technologies and the way they can balance each other out if spread over certain regions and energy types.

Grid operators are constantly working to balance available supply with demand -- it's what they do. There are always natural variations that cause spikes in demand, reductions in supply, or create disturbances in frequency and voltage. Once you see there are a variety of ways to properly manage that variability, you start whittling away at the argument that you always need storage or a megawatt of natural gas backup for every megawatt of renewable energy.

Theoretical modeling is important. But what companies are doing in reality?

Here's five of the top methods for integrating renewable energy into the grid -- proving that intermittency isn't the showstopper that critics make it out to be. Explanations of each of these with videos are below.

1. Intelligent demand response
2. Microinverters and maximum power point trackers
3. Wind energy management tools
4. The virtual power plant
5. The hybrid solar-gas power plant

...

To categorically claim that intermittent renewables can't scale without hurting the grid ignores the very real innovations that are evolving today.

As the IEA's Hugo Chandler explains: "We want to explode the myth that there's a technological limit."

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