“…At What Costs?”
Even as the concept of renewable energy keeps sounding sweeter and more convenient, there are enormous costs and side effects that will be sparked by its adoption.
Remember that a high penetration of green power can worsen the state of global energy markets.
As we speak, many countries are beginning to feel the pinch. Europe was the first to feel these changes after it went through a decade of reduced returns, corporate disruptions and stranded assets.
Germany also witnessed the split of two of its biggest electricity providers, E.ON and RWE.
American power providers are also fighting a losing battle trying to find investors in renewable-rich parts.
China opted to take drastic measures by curtailing wind farms in order to keep coal plants up and running.
As a result, energy regulations have been set up to ensure that investments are directed towards areas that profit from public support. This makes the whole process a bit paradoxical because a state that supports green energy also ends up spending more on convectional power plants using the payments to alleviate green energy intermittency.
This means that politicians are once more the decision makers when it comes to keeping the lights on instead of the energy markets.
Sadly, their inexperience in the industry leads to them making lots of mistakes. Take Germany for instance, their support for cheap lignite ended up raising the level of toxic emissions despite the massive subsidies that were available for renewable.
Evidently, our leap into a clean and green future is bound to halt if we fail to come up with a new and effective approach.
Luckily, technology can help fix this predicament. Digitalization, smart meters and batteries have enabled companies and households to reduce demand by carrying out energy-intensive work at night when there’s minimal use.
This approach makes it easy to deal with the issue of intermittent supply.
Also, the inception of small modular power plants has made it even easier to move high voltages around power networks more effectively
To wrap this up
It’s evident that the major task towards a green and clean future involves redesigning the power market to accommodate these new changes in supply and demand.
The new markets should be able to account for the fluctuations brought about by weather changes.
And during times of power scarcity, they can come up with a high fixed price to keep the lights on.
Also, the markets should also reward minimal energy consumption to balance the grid just the same way they reward those who generate more electricity.
Basically, our policymakers need to accept that there is a problem that is not caused by renewable energy, but rather by the archaic electricity pricing system and formulation. That’s what needs to be fixed.