Costing The Earth
"New Grid for the New Age"
This week's Costing The Earth on Radio 4, Tom Heap covers the changes needed in the near future to cope with the UK moving over to a zero carbon electricity supply.
Quite a few aspects covered in brief - both good and less good.
A few points from various different bods interviewed:
The head of network for National Grid ESO reckons we'll have enough energy generated to avoid blackouts, but we'll need to modify how we use it. As he puts it: "Historically we've dispatched the generators to meet the demand, ....controlling your demand when the sun isn't shining.... will very much be a feature of a future network" i.e. demand led pricing via Smart Meters would be one aspect.
It is possible to decarbonise the grid without significant increase risk of blackouts and only minimal upward pressure on costs.
Energy storage systems will play a big role for when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow (as happened during parts of April).
The storage systems can be built (as the technology exists), but they're not being built quickly enough due to 'the market not signalling them'.
Within 10-15 years we'll need energy storage facilities of the week / month long capacity if we're going to fully decarbonise.
There was an excerpt from Tom's visit to Orkney a couple of years ago covering their use of 'surplus' electricity to generate Hydrogen to be stored and used as and when needed.
Hot water batteries were covered - which is a new one on me ! https://sunamp.com/
The first phase of decarbonising the electricity we use hasn't had much of an impact on 'us' (switching to generation using renewables and away from coal etc), but the next phase will - buying BEVs, heat pumps, improving the efficiency of our homes, but it needn't be too costly due to Smart electronics in the home running things cheaper.
There was an excerpt from a previous episode about a domestic experiment run in Cornwall concerning a local energy market where locals could generate, store and regulate their own energy usage.
The only realistic way we can fully decarbonise our electricity generation and usage is if everything becomes Smart....... including the public
It's an interesting listen, but as with all such investigations that involve predicting the future - it relies on the future doing what you expect it to