I thought a good way to kick off this blog would be to write a short post that hammers home the point that renewable energy has come of age, and that the final barriers to widespread implementation are falling by the wayside. To highlight this, I call your attention to a featured article by the World Bank this month, “The Renewable Electricity Grid: The Future Is Now“, which summarizes a recently published report by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).
A lot of changes have occurred in even just the last couple of years that render many traditionally-held views on integrating large amounts of renewable energy incorrect. As such, the report provides excellent information for policy-makers, regulators and utilities on integrating renewables into electricity grids.
Renewables are no longer a marginal business. We are talking about levels of energy that can bring light to thousands of households, grow businesses, meet the needs of cities, and drive entire economies. Anita Marangoly George
Senior Director, Energy and Extractives Global Practice, World Bank Group
Some highlights from the article/report include:
- High levels of renewable energy like wind and solar can be incorporated into power grids without compromising reliability or affordability
- Energy storage can address the most challenging aspects of integration
- Utilities will need to rethink their business models in light of combined consumers and distributed generators (i.e. prosumers)
- Natural gas power has the edge over coal or nuclear since it can ramp up and down quickly
While these points might be clear to those of us working in the renewable energy sector, in my work on policy I continue to discover that there are many persisting misconceptions among utilities, regulators, and the general public. For example, it is often repeated as “obvious” that wind and solar plants need one-to-one backup by fossil fuel plants for when the wind doesn’t blow or sun doesn’t shine — this report dispels this myth, and I hope this message can finally propagate far and wide!
It is an exciting time in the energy sector: green energy is undermining the US coal industry, and global carbon emissions have stopped rising for the first time in 40 years. It’s time for society to further accelerate the deployment of green energy — even conservative financial institutions like the World Bank are on board. The future is now!
P.S. As this is my first post, I will remind you that you can read more about New Energy Nation in the About section and more about me in the Authors section. And don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list and follow the site on social media. And do let me know your thoughts below!