Renewables and Future Energy Systems
As renewable energy becomes more competitive and the technologies continue to develop, there is a growing field of work examining current and future energy systems and how new energy sources might be most effectively integrated.
The most recent “headline grabbing” disruption to the future of energy was Tesla’s “Powerwall” battery, which provides power storage to individual homes. It raised the possibility of a very different de-centralised energy system.
The transition to renewable energy is an important part of moving towards a prosperous global economy where growth is decoupled from the use of finite resources, including fossil fuel energy sources. The best system to facilitate that system is a subject of debate.
A team of researchers at the University of Agder in Norway have just released a report outlining the benefits of a combination of wind, solar and diesel generators to create effective energy systems. The Agder researchers worked in remote areas examining the possibility for delivering “mini-grid systems” for villages in countries where there are places off the grid.
Another study has suggested that there will be some challenges in effectively integrating renewables and their accompanying new technologies (such as rooftop solar panels) into the current grid structure.
The answer is likely to be a more complex energy system that in some way incorporates both the traditional national-based grid structure, and also localised energy generation. The release of a commercial technology like Tesla’s powerwall suggests that a different looking energy system might not be all that far away.
Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: Better Energy Systems