Dependable power and carbon neutrality aren't compatible, but that might change.
- Oct 27, 2020 9:13 pm GMT
Since the Paris Agreement was drafted in 2015, governments and companies across the world have waged war against climate change. Their efforts, which usually consist of a move towards renewables and greater energy efficiency, are commendable. However, people in the power business, regardless of how they feel about global warming, worry that some of the carbon cutting initiatives will degrade the dependability of electricity. They’re right to worry, but it’s possible that technological innovation will give our world the best of both.
Let’s start with an inconvenient truth: Rapidly dercarcombonizing the grid has backfired before.
The example of California is instructive. The state has very ambitious clean energy targets, shooting for 100% carbon-free power by 2045. Over the past decade, the Cali has loaded up on renewables, which has drawn praise from the usual suspects—well intentioned but ignorant commentators who don’t understand how the grid works. We’ve seen the danger of such rapid renewable adoption this year. CAISO was left scrambling for extra generation as demand soared this summer, and their renewable sources didn’t always come through. Customers lost power who shouldn’t have, and many more nearly did. The operator escaped by the skin of its teeth thanks to some creative flex demand and energy efficiency tricks.
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