Chapter 6: Increasing the penetration of intermittent renewable energy: innovation in energy storage and grid management
Many governments have introduced policies to support the development and adoption of renewable energy technologies as a means of mitigating climate change. A significant barrier to the increased penetration of renewable energy arises from the ‘intermittent’ nature of the electricity produced. Output from individual plants can vary on a scale of seconds to minutes, as well as over several hours. The extent to which the grid as a whole can accommodate such variations is a function of its capacity to adjust to supply and demand shocks. As the penetration of intermittent renewable sources increases, the need for such capacity increases as well. This can be achieved through a variety of means, including increased capacity of ‘dispatchable’ power, which can ‘balance’ intermittent renewable power, greater integration of grids within and across countries, and the use of a more diverse and dispersed mix of intermittent sources. However, flexibility can also be introduced into the system through increased energy storage capacity and improved grid management, both of which allow for improved matching of electricity supply and demand. The motivation for the chapter arises out of a concern to provide policy makers with guidance on the targeting of public R & D support and other policy incentives. There may be greater benefits from targeting R & D expenditures at storage and grid management technologies rather than directly at intermittent generating technologies.
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