And that means storage. Some folks point to Denmark as a success story without understanding the Danes are wheeling power to Sweden, Norway and Germany and receiving nuclear, hydro and coal generated base power in return. Ya gotta have the base if you don't have the storage.
Another approach that has potential (energy pun) is to use electric vehicles as storage and load levelers for the grid. It is still early days however, only last week did we see this announcement from the University of Delaware, NRG Energy and the PJM Interconnection: "University of Delaware, NRG EVs Sell Energy to Grid".
It was a first.
Today Robert Rapier posted "The Key To Running the World on Solar and Wind Power" on his R2 blog and which contained this graph:
It is really, really hard to compete with the energy density stored in liquid hydrocarbons.
His whole post is worth a read.
If one is in a reading mood one of our first 100 posts, way back in 2007 was "Sustainable Energy-without the hot air":
Who better than a Cambridge physics professor to hang out with this weekend? Well maybe a few folks come to mind .
Many years ago a very old and wise and rich speculator said to me "There's time enough to do anything, there's not time enough to do everything, you have to make decisions".The reviews are almost giddy:
I've made my decision. Somebody should do it.
With that preamble (pre-ramble) here's a seven MB PDF with the above title. (If I can tease you just a bit, it's dated April 11, 2007) [at that time=two days old]
If that seems too daunting, here's the website of David J.C. Mackay, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Gatsby Senior Research Fellow, Department of Physics, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. Don't miss the "about me" link on the left.
15 Jan 2010 Bill Gates - Clear Thinking on the Topic of Energy 'If someone wants an overall view of how energy gets used, where it comes from, and the challenges in switching to new sources, this is the book to read. ... I was thrilled to see a book that is scientific, numeric, broad, open-minded, and well written on a topic where a lot of narrow, obscure, non-numeric writing confuses the public. People need to really understand what is going on and then be part of the process of moving the world to a new energy infrastructure.'And on and on and on.
Physics World - 'a book every budding physicist should read - and perhaps also ... the one every working physicist would like to have written.'
'the book would be a good way of introducing teenagers to how real physicists work; all the more so because MacKay's treatment of energy is much more positive and empowering than either the school physics curriculum or most environmental literature.'
30 April 2009 - Guardian: Power to the people - "How did a Cambridge physics professor come to write this year's must-read book about tackling our future energy needs?"
8 April 2009 The Economist - 'The book is a tour de force... For anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the real problems involved, "Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air" is the place to start.'
19 June 2009 - Science magazine - "a cold blast of reality ... a must-read analysis ... I found MacKay's book by turns exhilarating and terrifying. His calculations are always thought-provoking even when his assumptions had me banging the table in disagreement. My objections often faded as his analysis unfolded."
You get the point.
Since we first posted on "Sustainable Energy-without the hot air" Mackay was appointed one of the eight Regius Professors at Cambridge (of Engineering) and is also trying to fix the mess at the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change as Chief Scientific Advisor.
We also visited the Professor in 2012. By then I had shortened the introduction:
His Wikipedia entry is basically "David J.C. MacKay, see: heavyweight."*Finally, here is the new download page.