Hydro, wind and solar: Undeniable synergies

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“There is no technical or economic barrier to transitioning the entire world to 100 percent clean, renewable energy with a stable electric grid at low cost,” said Mark Z. Jacobson with Stanford University. This is the key finding of research completed and published in early 2018.

At the heart of this study is the need to match energy supplied by wind, water and solar power and storage with what the researchers predict demand to be in 2050, according to a Stanford University press release.

Scientists studied 139 countries (divided into 20 regions) and matched supply and demand in 30-second increments for five years (2050 to 2054) to account for the variability in wind and solar power as well as the variability in demand over hours and seasons. The researchers used two computational modeling programs, one to predict the amount of energy that could be produced from “weather-related energy sources,” which are variable and don’t necessarily produce energy when demand is highest. The second incorporated energy produced by more stable sources of electricity, including hydroelectric plants and tidal and wave devices and also included methods of energy storage.

Under all three scenarios studied, blackouts were avoided in all 20 world regions for all five years examined. This suggest that “many possible solutions to grid stability with 100 percent wind, water and solar power are possible.”

It is clear that synergies exist between intermittent renewables and hydropower, including pumped storage, which makes up 95% of the currently deployed energy storage capacity worldwide. This will be the focus of the upcoming Grid-Scale Energy Storage Summit, taking place June 25 to 26 in Charlotte, N.C., U.S.

At this summit, individuals working in the hydro, wind, solar and battery market sectors will discuss how to collaborate to provide grid-scale energy storage.

The summit kicks off with a keynote presentation from Timothy Unruh, assistant secretary for renewable power at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This is followed by a roundtable discussion among representatives of various market sectors on changes in the electric power industry, the case for grid-scale storage, gaps created by the deregulated market structure, and more.

Other sessions will cover policies and regulations, technologies and case studies of projects that combine hydro with wind and/or solar, and the business case for grid-scale energy storage.

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