The Four Cornerstones of the Ideal 100% Renewable Power System
The Path to 100% renewable power and the optimal power systems it envisions will be different for every city, state, and country across the globe. But while every system’s power generation mix will be unique, all must reliably deliver electricity 24/7, regardless of the season. These future power systems will need four cornerstones to maintain reliable power in the clean power system of the future.
In a 100% renewable future, wind and solar farms will generate most of our electricity. As the amount of wind and sunshine depend on the weather, there will be times when there is not enough power (at night or during calm winds) and times when more energy is generated than is needed, and the excess power is stored for future use. Because weather is so variable, the system must have an excess of wind and solar farms in place in order to maintain 100% renewable power.
Constant Balance Cornerstone
This cornerstone keeps power flows on the grid balanced, minute by minute. Power systems must maintain a balance between electricity consumption and generation at all times. A system imbalance can cause electrical equipment and industrial processes to malfunction, lights to flicker, and sensitive electrical equipment to be damaged; if the imbalance is significant enough, the entire electric grid can fail, causing a blackout. The Constant Balance Cornerstone collects excess power in short-term battery-style energy storage with typical durations of one hour or less that continuously charge and discharge as needed to supply constant, reliable power.
Daily Shift Cornerstone
This cornerstone ensures that the lights stay on when the sun goes down. The most cost-effective method of electricity shifting is using overbuilt renewable power during the day to meet load and charge storage, and discharging that stored energy at other times of the day when it’s needed. Storing excess wind and solar electricity for future use is the key to avoiding wasting or curtailing energy when over-generation occurs. The Daily Shifting Cornerstone is made up of large energy-storage assets that can charge all day and discharge with durations of 4 to 12 hours.
Power systems have to deliver power every day of the year, no matter how dark the winter, how still the summer, or how long-lasting the unfavorable weather system. The Reliability Cornerstone ensures system reliability 24/7/365, even when there is not enough solar or wind power to satisfy demand. Flexible generation will make up the difference, acting as insurance for the 100% renewable power system. At first, these flexible power plants will run on natural gas. But over time, they will convert to running on green hydrogen or carbon-neutral methane produced from excess renewable power, and power-to-gas will serve as long-term storage for clean energy — the final step on the Path to 100% renewable energy.
100% Renewable Future
As a combination of renewable energy, energy storage and flexible generation enables a 100% renewable future, societies will reap the benefits of cleaner air, a more stable climate, and more affordable, more available electricity that can support greater prosperity around the globe.
We look forward to working with you on the Path to 100%.