Modelling Climate Change: Electricity

By ADRIAN

Just moderated a mini-workshop on electricity supply for the European Calculator project, as part of the out-reach to co-design a model that will help decision makers judge the impact of different policy levers when trying to reach the Paris Agreement commitments on climate change.

Particularly interesting to me was the bullishness of what was considered possible when it comes to balancing energy supply when demand suddenly peaks/renewable energy supply suddenly drops. Many seemed to believe that – relatively soon – a combination of battery/energy storage options (central and decentral), combined with demand management (paying e.g. large factories to turn down the dial immediately), smart,  local, grids and devices (that use electricity only when it is readily available) and trans-European grids (allowing immediate cross-border import) will substantially reduce – or even eliminate! The need for gas powered generation (the part of the energy supply that is not baseload, and can quickly be turned on or off).

Energy Revolution?

By ADRIAN

An interesting piece at a number of levels, as it:

  • Is written by the President of the China Photovoltaic Industry Association. Sure, in the last decade, China has wiped out many competitors here, but the surprise is the language used – it could have come from a Western green developmentalist. A timely reminder that China is re-positioning itself as a global green player.
  • Points out poorer countries could leap-frog richer ones by going straight to solar. Good, but if I think back to my experience in N.Africa, it is not just a question of offering solar technology “cheaply”: a lot needs to be done on behaviour too. 1. In some places having a PV is seen as a stigmatic mark – you are too poor to be on the “real” grid! – and 2. With big power stations people can “only” steal electricity, not the generator. Sadly, decentralised PVs can go missing in large numbers.
  • Fails to address a point: how to get from today to that sustainable future in richer places. If you are a fossil-based power producer, why invest if your assets will be stranded  shortly? Governments will have to pay to keep “old” technologies in place so as the lights do not go out, and at the same time build up the new infrastructure needed – and that is expensive.