Are U.S. Utilities Ready for Winter?
- Oct 8, 2021 5:03 am GMT
Are renewables the cause for recent energy price spikes or the best way to prevent them? Is it possible the answer is, both? Well it depends on who you ask. Europe’s ‘energy crisis’ stems from a low supply of gas and the rising demand for gas in Asia. Some analysts say renewables, insulation and electrification are the answer to soaring gas prices across Europe. While others are convinced the rapid transition to renewables is what led the region into relying too heavily on international gas to fill the gaps. For example, low wind speeds last summer reduced wind power generation from 25 percent to 7 percent and gas was used to offset the decline. However, Sarah Brown, an electricity analyst at think-tank Ember, said, “Blaming low wind is clutching at straws.” Manchester University's Matthew Paterson, a professor of international politics who researches climate politics, also commented in favor of wind, ”Part of the answer is to put more windmills up in different places, because the wind will be blowing somewhere.” More research and development of solar and hydropower have also been encouraged. Lisa Fischer, who leads the climate think tank E3G's program pointed to another factor as part of the solution. The demand side. "Europe has been building renewables quickly, and while we could go faster, what has been slow is critical action in cutting energy demand and making it more flexible,” said Fischer. The good news is, smart grids were high on her list as a problem solver and according to the IEA, the United States is already one of the leading investors in smart grid technology. While the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France are looking at a growing problem, the U.S. isn’t immune to winter price hikes and potential gas shortages. Ernie Thrasher, chief executive officer of Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC, said, “There are people of high authority at large utilities that are deeply concerned.” Power producers at Duke Energy Corp. are already warning customers that bills will spike this winter.
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