Transitioning to renewable energy sources – Obstacles?

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Transitioning to renewable energy sources uses wind, hydro, solar and biofuels as the main renewable energy sources. Fossil fuel sources supply 81% of all global energy. Renewable resources provide about 19% of global energy. The biomass resources, which includes biofuels, are the largest source of global renewable energy. Seventy percent of biomass is used in Africa and Asia for heating and cooking.

Transitioning to renewable energy sources

If the question turns to renewable electricity production, hydropower is the largest source among the renewables. After Hydro the next biggest is wind, followed by solar power. What obstacles prevent greater adoption of renewable energy sources? One answer relates to some renewables providing an intermittent supply of energy. One can overcome that obstacle with an economical grid-scale system for storing excess energy. That one obstacle presents as policy reluctance within political leadership more than others regarding renewable energy resources.

The issues of availability and intermittent supply.

Wind and solar emerge as renewable energy sources with potential for expansion. One economic energy storage solution is needed. Hydroelectricity provides a sustainable electrical flow that can be adjusted. The hydro will meet most daily and seasonal demands. Wind will provide power when the wind blows, and solar generators provide ample power on cloudless days. However, both are intermittent generators.  The solar panels produce no electricity at night and turbines stop turning when the wind pressure drops.

Although Solar is great when there is sunlight we all know solar power is a diurnal source. The output from solar is variable depending on the season, weather and sunlight intensity. The power from solar and wind generation is amply available when the power sources are present. and during those times there is no correlation to energy users’ demands.

Transitioning to energy storage

Viable electricity storage solutions are needed. Batteries can store excess renewable electric power when it is being generated. No battery storage needs customers to use the renewable power being generated or wasting it. Conventional power production needs to be turned off or scaled back if solar and wind sources are being used. Excess daytime renewable power is then channelled into pumped hydro or battery banks.

To actively use the pumped hydro storage technology the topography needs to be suitable, and there needs to be a dam. Other electric power storage technologies like making hydrogen from electrolysis or storing the power in large scale batteries like vanadium redox flow cells add significant cost. Batteries make the renewable power expensive. Makers of lithium batteries and storage technologies companies are investing in intensive research. Universities follow incentives for doing R&D directed to accelerate commercialisation of effective grid-scale energy storage solutions. Climate change continues as a key driver to provide an effective zero carbon solution.

A problem with every solution

The conspiracy obstacles may suggest advocating for renewables and zero carbon technology will be a threat to existing conventional energy establishments. Oil companies like Shell are transitioning to renewable energy sources and investing billions of dollars to become a lead player in the renewable energy environment.

Over decades new solar PV technology has brought dramatic improvements in generating efficiency. The cost of production reduced with improvements in manufacturing technology. More and better technology came with using electricity for robotic applications, electric vehicles, drones for deliveries and many convenient electronic applications.

The conversion to sophisticated digital and electrical applications are making the investments into renewable energy options attractive. Young people are seeing career possibilities within the electronics industry, not simply in the opportunities from installing solar and batteries storage. Residential home owners and businesses see the potential of renewable power generation.

Energy Policy Leadership an “obstacle”.

Leaders recognise the passive convenience that producers and consumers have with continuing with the fossil fuel status quo. Climate advocates, and regulators are concerned with emissions. Supply chain logisticians and everyday people want continuing supply and a low price of supply. Leaders watch for the long-term effects of oil price changes to their local economy. They all underestimate the strong reluctance to change from the internal combustion engine and conventional power that most countries are invested in.

Leaders see the need to move quickly towards low and zero emission systems. However, that radical change will require building new and different infrastructure. It is possible that funding such infrastructure and building it in time is less guaranteed. Many politicians say they like clean power. However, political leaders will not advocate for electricity from renewables without a guarantee of it providing stable reliable power. While clean power is better, constant power is convenient and in some cases it is cheaper to produce.

Transitioning to renewable energy sources & intermittent supply

Inevitably, transitioning to renewable energy sources for power means having storage solutions for banking the electric power generated. They avoid having to make decisions about moving the environmental costs of fossil fuel polluters to those whose consumption incurs them.

That kind of leadership encourages the growing concern that businesses have about them holding the cost of stranded fossil fuelled assets. The businesses will need to dispose of efficient working fossil-fuelled assets and buy electrical equipment during the window of energy transition. Businesses want insulation from having to buy new equipment that is efficient and electric before they need it. Business might want compensation for the lost value within the retired older technology machines and the costs of training and new systems.

During the transition to a new zero-carbon clean energy environment some businesses will lobby against climate change goals. That change to cleaner energy would deliver to most of them an enormous lifetime environmental benefit later.

Selling a solution

Transitioning to renewable energy sources will mean business must spend and invest. Many would seek compensation and incentives to move towards a business opportunity to improve. Peer-to-peer energy sales for the business that produces too much electricity from moving to the renewables comes with the possibility of profiting from a green revolution.Businesses that protect their own resources of power by installing grid sized batteries may become a partner with others using that technology and consolidate a place in the energy reseller market. The new business and industries post covid times will find digital processes cleaner and more efficient. New systems for working after making the investment in digital, and electronic equipment will make it easier for people to breathe.

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